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We’ve overhauled our period policy, and we hope more agencies do the same

By Anna-Louise Gladwell | Managing director

AnalogFolk

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May 5, 2023 | 7 min read

Creative agency AnalogFolk has unveiled a new ‘open-source’ period policy, intended as an industry blueprint, featuring paid leave and free products. Managing director Anna-Louise Gladwell tells The Drum why.

A moon cup, being help up against a red background

Why AnalogFolk has overhauled its period policy / Marketing City to Sea via Unsplash

Periods are messy, painful, and all-around unpleasant. But for people who menstruate, it’s a monthly reality that can significantly impact their physical and mental well-being. Despite this, menstruation has been treated as a taboo topic for far too long, with many people feeling ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it openly.

Why is this so important? For starters, menstrual pain is a leading cause of absenteeism among women, with as many as one in five women missing work or school due to period pain. And when women do call in sick because of period pain, only one in five disclose the real reason for their absence to their employer or school.

That’s why at AnalogFolk, we’re flipping the script and taking a step toward creating a more inclusive and supportive workplace with our new open-source period policy.

Let's get real for a moment: periods are a huge deal. They can cause painful cramps, bloating, migraines, and severe fatigue from the decrease in estrogen levels, doubly for some due to the volume of blood lost. Those are just a few of the delightful symptoms. But the reality is, many people who menstruate feel like they have to suffer in silence, powering through the workday while dealing with pain and discomfort.

It’s likely you’ll know someone who needs to change their tampon and pad every 30 minutes and has bled through their clothes (whether on the way to work or during); someone who has projectile vomited and is debilitated from the monthly cramps and migraines; someone who feels sheer exhaustion; someone emotionally very low – and yes, maybe snappy – due to a decrease in serotonin levels. Mood swings, anxiety, and depression are all common symptoms of PMS, and can make it incredibly difficult to function at work or in other areas of our lives. Yet, so often, these symptoms are dismissed as ‘just hormones’ or ‘women’s problems’.

Posters for digital agency AnalogFolk's new menstruation policy

That’s why we’ve introduced a period policy that includes one full day of paid leave each month where needed, without affecting an employee's holiday or sick leave entitlement. Plus, we’ll provide free period products (in partnership with period product social enterprise Hey Girls), a private space to stretch, and no expectation to work if unwell due to menstrual symptoms.

But it's not just about practical support. We also want to create a culture where individuals feel safe and supported to talk about periods, openly and without shame. Research shows that stigma and shame surrounding periods are still pervasive, with many people feeling like they have to hide their menstrual symptoms or pretend they don’t exist. We want to change that.

Our policy uses inclusive and respectful language, promoting an environment where individuals feel comfortable talking about their periods and seeking the support they need. It's crucial to provide education and resources for all team members, even those who don't menstruate. Since periods are still stigmatized, many people haven't had proper education on the topic. This is necessary to encourage colleagues to support each other and ask for what they need. It also helps line managers better support their team members.

We know we're not the only company to introduce a period policy, but we want to take it a step further. This isn’t about tokenistic pledges or virtue signaling; it’s about recognizing the real impact that periods can have on people’s lives, and taking concrete steps to address it. So we’ve made our period policy open-source so that other companies can adopt or adapt it, and we hope that many will do just that.

We're not stopping at periods either. Since last year we’ve introduced policies to support menopause, divorce and separation, family forming, and temporary working from anywhere. Our policies are designed to promote diversity, inclusion, and well-being and to show that we're an employer that is understanding and empathetic.

At AnalogFolk, we believe in actions, not just words. Our ambition is to be an impactful agent of change, not just in the work we do for our clients, but in how we treat and support our employees. Our period policy is just one small step towards creating a more equitable workplace for everyone, but we hope it will inspire others to join us on this journey. Because when it comes to periods, it's time to ditch the shame and start talking openly and honestly about something that affects half the population.

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AnalogFolk

Our mission is to use digital technology to make the analog world better and to also be an impactful agency of change for people, brands and society, in pursuit of a better world.

We have offices in Amsterdam, London, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, and Sydney partnering with brands including Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Hyundai, Michelob Ultra, Maybelline and Unilever.

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