This is a NEW blog series where you will hear from today’s leaders about how they are addressing the topic of periods in the workspace. We seek to create a safe space to share, learn and confront the stigma around menstruation in the workplace.
Interviewed by Meaghan Sullivan, Google Workspace Marketing Customer Programs Lead
👋 Meet Allie Meador! Allie is the Chief Revenue Officer at RightGift, a technology company providing free solutions to empower nonprofits, businesses, and their donors, leveraging the impact of purposeful purchases and in-kind donations. Originally from Wichita, Kansas, Allie now lives in Durango, Colorado with her husband and two dogs.
Tell us a little bit about your first period.
So, in seventh grade, I got my first period right when cheerleading tryouts were happening. The issue was, my mom only had those super thick 17-layer pads that all our moms seemed to use. Coming from a pretty traditional family, I didn’t have many options. I didn’t want to stand out at that age, and the fashion of the time didn’t make it any easier—think Soffe shorts. Let’s just say, I didn’t make the cheer squad, and that’s when I quickly figured out how to use other period products.
What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of the word menstruation?
Education. It’s important to highlight all the studies that show us that young girls and women miss school because of this issue of period poverty, especially in marginalized communities. For me, education played a vital role in preparing me as a woman to go confidently into the world, and I believe that every girl should have that same opportunity to empower themselves. So, when girls are held back from school, most of the time, they won’t finish school. Ensuring access to menstrual products and education about menstruation is really important.
Do you believe that periods should be discussed in the workplace? Why or why not?
At RightGift, we talk about it all the time. I believe discussing periods and the natural bodily function that affects over half the population is crucial in the workplace. Many individuals who menstruate face debilitating symptoms, and it’s just important to understand that they cannot carry out the same tasks during that time that someone who’s not experiencing those problems might be able to. There’s this expectation in the United States that you need to work through the pain because that’s what makes you tough. Overlooking the impact of periods impacts the work environment, but it’s also probably going to affect your bottom line as well.
How do you see the intersection of gender equality and the conversation around menstruation in professional settings?
Talking about menstruation in professional settings is crucial just at a minimum. But when employers recognize and accommodate all of these challenges tied to menstruation, it’s a big step towards fostering gender equality, and we’re all going to be better for it. Inclusive policies addressing menstrual health make everyone, regardless of gender, feel more supported. They feel more valued at work because they feel like they are being listened to. We want all employees to feel valued because that’s what builds loyalty.
We’ve been talking about benefits all over the place of having these conversations in the workplace. But what are some of those potential benefits both for employees and organizations when menstruation is openly discussed?
I think when menstruation is openly discussed at work, and I’ve seen this in my own environment, the benefits go beyond just productivity because people can take better care of themselves. It promotes transparent communication, enhances morale, and often reduces turnover because people feel like they’re in an environment that makes them feel worthy of being there.
Do you believe there is a generational shift in attitude towards discussing menstruation in the workplace and how can organizations adapt to these changing perspectives?
Menstrual leave is not a new discussion. But topics like menstrual leave are having a resurgence because of the younger generation, and it’s awesome. I think it all really ties back to education. They’re openly discussing periods. They’re literally talking about what types of [period] products they like at lunch, which never would have happened when I was that age. They’re raising awareness on a whole other level. The confidence and energy that they have aren’t just confined to the classroom, they’re bringing it into the workplace as well. To attract the brightest minds, we need to adapt as employers and as businesses and consider the needs of all of our employees and not just those who mirror our own experiences.
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