In a move that will hopefully make the workplace a more efficient and creative place to be, one company is planning to create an official “period policy,” which aims to give women time off from work during their monthly cycle without fear of being stigmatized.
Coexist, is the Bristol company at the helm of the new initiative to start what is believed to be the UK’s first “period policy.” The director of Coexist, Bex Baxter, has said that the pioneering move is an attempt to synchronize the work environment with the natural cycle of the female body. Baxter believes that the stigma which exists around an issue that affects over half of the population needs to end.
“My team here have always been very generous – I’ve been able to take time off when I’ve needed it, but always put it back in again. But until now there haven’t been any formal guidelines. For too long there’s been a taboo surrounding periods – I have women staff telling me they’re ashamed to admit they’re in pain. I want us to break down that shame and replace the negativity with positivity.”
While Coexist may be the first company in the UK to introduce a policy to give women time off during their periods, it has been done before. Countries such as Japan and China also allow women time off during their period and according to the Independent UK, sports giant Nike has had a period policy since 2007.
A company has introduced a new 'period policy' for women in the workplace - and it's time everywhere else did too https://t.co/whYzHzRa5d— Independent Voices (@IndyVoices) March 2, 2016
Studies have shown that for the millions of women who have their periods, the pain experienced can range from being a mere nuisance to reaching crippling intensity, which can reach the same levels as someone suffering from a heart attack.
In a company where 24 of the 31 staff are women, the policy has no doubt been met with overwhelmingly positive support. Coexist manages space in Bristol city’s bohemian Stokes Croft quarter. Hamilton House is a space operated for community organizations, artists and, activists and includes a restaurant named The Canteen and visitors are first greeted with the Banksy mural Mild, Mild West which depicts a teddy bear throwing a petrol bomb at police in riot gear.
The Guardian wrote that Hamilton House will host a seminar where Baxter and her team plan to formulate the “period policy,” it is scheduled to be held March 15 and is called Pioneering Period Policy: Valuing Natural Cycles in the Workplace. The leader of the seminar, Alexandra Pope, believes that both men and women can benefit from “cycle awareness.”
“In the past any proposal to allow women to, for example, have time off at menstruation has been derided by men and women alike. In this context menstruation is seen as a liability or a problem. Or as women getting special treatment. The purpose of this policy initiative is to create a positive approach to menstruation and the menstrual cycle that empowers women and men and supports the effectiveness and well being of the organisation. To restore the menstrual cycle as the asset it is.”
Baxter went on to express the belief that during their periods women need to regroup and nourish their bodies and rather than diminishing productivity, women having flexible hours will actually do the opposite and improve overall productivity. The director also stated that the period immediately following a woman’s policy is when she is actually at her most productive, three times more productive in fact.
I agree with this as periods make me feel so poorly the first few days https://t.co/Rh8iNUttIJ— Rach♥ (@gymrachel) March 2, 2016
Coexist believes the policy is necessary as it will allow women in the workplace “to take time for their body’s natural cycle without putting this under the label of illness.” They believe that it is simply good business policy to work with the body’s natural rhythms as creativity and intelligence will be more fulfilled.
[Photo Courtesy of Michaeljung/Shutterstock]