In our recent poll, 93% of our followers said they would like their employers to provide free period care. As we launched our workplace box in Feb, we caught up with an employee working for our first corporate client!
Why did dunnhumby take the step to provide period care, free in all toilets?
Equality in the workplace is a really important issue for dunnhumby and we aspire to be a fantastic place to work, where both men and women can fulfil their career potential. I thought that a very quick and easy win would be to provide free femcare for all women that work for the company, starting with our headquarters in London. This turned out to be a slightly larger task than I had planned, but I’m very happy to say that it has happened!
Why do you think this is important?
I think while we talk about how far we’ve come in society with women’s health and our progress in the fight for equality we still have a very long way to go. It’s amazing to see attitudes slowly shifting and the surge in media coverage with the #MeToo movement continues to keep the dialogue going. However, periods remain taboo, and given that every month roughly half of the world’s population get a period, it is something that we need to talk about so much more. Providing free femcare at dunnhumby has started the discussion around how we can help others less fortunate than ourselves (every box of tampons and pads we buy, TOTM gives pads to Red Box Project, a community run initiative tackling period poverty in schools. Raising awareness of this issue is a passion of mine.
What provision did you have before switching to this model and why did you decide to change?
We had two vending machines across our 3 floors, and it was £1 for a tampon or £1 for a pad, which is extremely expensive, so nobody really used it.
What has been the response by employees at dunnhumby?
Overwhelmingly positive. Women were very grateful and proud to work for a company that showed they value their employees that have periods. It has also relieved worries about remembering to take tampons out of bags and having to carry across our very large open plan office.
How have you personally found it now that there’s a provision there if you need it?
An absolute game changer! It’s always a struggle for me in the mornings and even after over 20 years of having periods I still forget to pack products when I’m rushing out of the door in the morning! Knowing it’s one less thing to worry about is so great and using the safest kind of fem care! It was a win-win for me.
Were there any concerns about providing free tampons and pads before it launched?
The biggest concern was people taking more than they needed and the cost, therefore, becoming unmanageable. TOTM were a fabulous support during these negotiations offering a lot of advice and incentives to avoid this. Understanding who would hold the budget for this initiative was also an important part of the process. Our facilities team took on the task and I had some incredible support from like-minded women on the team.
Why did you choose organic cotton period care?
I had found out only a couple of years ago about the likelihood of the pesticides in non-organic cotton making their way into your tampons. I read that where the tampon sits is the most absorbent part of the female body, therefore any chemicals present in the tampon would be absorbed. This freaked me out, so I’ve used organic ever since. I also read that having organic cotton pads are much gentler against your skin so you’re far less likely to experience any irritation.
Clearly organic is the way forward, so I wanted to make sure in the office we had the opportunity to have the safest form of period protection. I’m also part of the dunnhumby sustainability committee and period products are a huge part of the plastics problem that we are seeing in the world. As a real bonus to us the TOTM period products are also completely plastic wrapper free, so we’re also helping the environment.