Almost nine out of 10 of those who menstruate have experienced anxiety or stress in the workplace due to their period, according to research released today by menstrual equity charity Bloody Good Period.
The report, which is based on a survey of 3,000 members of the public and an employer-facing study, found the overwhelming majority (89 per cent) of respondents had experienced some form of stress in the workplace because of their period.
More than a quarter (27%) reported never feeling supported by their employers, with the youngest respondents feeling the least supported.
A quarter believed that taking time off work for menstrual health issues had negatively affected their career progression.
A shocking 4% of respondents said they never have free access to toilets and breaks, and an additional 11% said they do “only sometimes”.
One respondent said: “I don’t feel confident talking about [period issues] with my employer for fear that it would make me look flakey or weak. Colleagues who take regular sick leave are seen as unreliable and so I will tend to struggle on, regardless of how I feel.”
When asked what employers could do to help, 63% said to normalise the conversation around periods in the workplace.
The report concludes by calling for employers to take action on improving their knowledge, understanding and empathy around periods at work.
The findings come ahead of the Summer launch of Bloody Good Employers, a programme which will help employers to play a more active role in the conversation around menstruation, and improve the support they offer to employees who menstruate.
Joe Gray, Employers project lead at Bloody Good Period, says: “The repetitive lack of communication around periods is at the heart of this ‘cycle of silence’.
“Most, though not all, workplaces have issues around stigma, non-disclosure around how periods can be challenging at work, and a general lack of knowledge. In spite of this, our research shows it is possible to exercise change, in a very human way. Even the simple act of taking part in this research encouraged managers to start talking and reflecting, and we also heard about positive rapport in workplaces that provide open and productive environments for these conversations. That approach is what we will help all UK employers do more of through Bloody Good Employers.”
BGP believes the Covid crisis has focused attention on the changes that are possible at work. Gabby Edlin, BGP founder and CEO, says: “More than ever, we have an opportunity to actively reshape our worlds and workplaces. There’s also a business case for doing this: we believe that supporting people when they have their periods can have significant mental health benefits, boosting satisfaction levels, happiness at work, productivity and loyalty. Looking after staff in a way that reflects their whole selves is the right thing to do.”
The full report is available on the Bloody Good Period website
BGP is actively fundraising to build BGE, and looking for launch partners for the initiative. To find out more, contact Joe at [email protected].