A Bristol firm will soon become the first company in the UK to introduce a 'period policy' – a flexible work arrangement for its female employees during the time of the month when they are on their menstrual cycle. Coexist, based in the Stokes Croft, hopes to create a happier, more productive work environment by tapping into its mostly female employees' natural cycle.
"I have managed many female members of staff over the years and I have seen women at work who are bent over double because of the pain caused by their periods," said one of the company directors, Bex Baxter. "Despite this, they feel they cannot go home because they do not class themselves as unwell. And this is unfair. At Coexist we are very understanding. If someone is in pain - no matter what kind - they are encouraged to go home."
Coexist is a community interest company with a total staff population of 24 members, out of which 17 of the employees are female. "We wanted a policy in place which recognises and allows women to take time for their body's natural cycle without putting this under the label of illness," said Baxter. "There is a misconception that taking time off makes a business unproductive. Actually it is about synchronising work with the natural cycles of the body."
According to Baxter, when women are going through their period cycle, they tend to be in a "winter state" and they are "three times" more productive when their periods are over and they are in a spring section of their cycle. The policy will be launched as part of a seminar titled Pioneering Period Policy: Valuing Natural Cycles in the Workplace that takes place at the Hamilton House in Bristol on 15 March.
The seminar will be led by Australian-born Alexandra Pope who is also the founder of women's leadership programme, Red School. "Cycle awareness is a mindfulness tool for women and men. The menstrual cycle is a stress management and self-care tool that also offers a clear model of the creative process and sustainable living for women and men," said Pope, reported the Bristol Post.
The period policy will not be mandatory so if a female employee chooses to work during her periods, the option will always be open. With the policy, the company hopes to set a precedent that other companies can follow.