When period product company Hey Girls spoke to a study group of women, 68% of them admitted to immediately leaving work if they came on their period and didn't have the right product with them. That's why the social enterprise has launched a Period Dignity campaign aimed at furthering equality in the workplace.
Although the period conversation has opened up in recent years, it's still common to feel embarrassed if you bleed through your clothes at work or need to ask a colleague for a tampon. The fact that the majority of workplaces fail to provide sanitary products only adds to the stigma.
It leaves people forced to carry a heavy loads of pads or tampons, just in case. “I was in the middle of taking someone’s food order when waitressing in a busy restaurant. They were taking so long to decide and I could feel my period starting," Abbie told Hey Girls. "I had to run cross-legged to the back and ransack my emergency supply of tampons!”
And if there's ever a period-related mishap, it usually results in awkward apologies and the promise to yourself to wear dark clothing for the rest of your lifetime. Speaking to Hey Girls, Sophie explained how she was thankful that she had access to a "clean toilet block and some dark clothes" when her period came early while working off-site.
Celia, meanwhile, left a stain on her chair in the middle of a board meeting. Needing to go to the toilet, she instead sat back down until the meeting had finished and everyone had left the room. She tried to clean the stain with wet paper towels, but they disintegrated. "I then had to confess to the office cleaning staff," she recalled.
A company that offers free sanitary products is a company that values each and every staff member. "When you talk about free products, companies think it is going to cost them thousands and thousands of pounds," Celia Hodson, the founder of Hey Girls, told The Herald. "But it won’t because it’s about [making products available for when people are] caught short. If companies make soap and paper towels available, why not have these products as well?"
Thankfully, some businesses are listening. Hey Girls has managed to persuade the likes of H&M, Aesop, and Visit Scotland to stock period products in staff toilets. Plus, it has launched an online quote generator for any company executive looking to see how much period dignity really costs. (Why not get together with your office pals and email your boss the link?)
Not only is Hey Girls trying to help the average worker, it's also attempting to end period poverty in the UK. According to Plan International UK, one in 10 girls have been unable to afford sanitary products. Every Hey Girls pack — all are eco-friendly — bought will see a person in need receiving the same.
Founded in January 2018 by Hodson and her two daughters, Hey Girls has already managed to donate over five million period products, reports The Herald. The company's sanitary pads are available in supermarkets like Waitrose and Asda with more on the way.