An HR Biology Lesson: Menstruation Version

Last month I had the pleasure of speaking at the Ohio HR conference for the second time. Fabulous event (as always) with lots of peace, love and happiness HR-style.

This was approximately a ‘cycle’ ago with a bunch of women (lots of gals in human resources) at a jungle-themed-sexy’ish midwestern resort with (free!) SHRM and vendor-sponsored wine. We probably all got in sync with our menstrual cycles; 4 days at an HR conference is like living together in a sorority house or serving side-by-side in an army platoon or working together in an office – isn’t it? That theory, called the McClintock effect, has been debunked through ongoing studies.

Whatever. I don’t care.

Plus, whether syncing our cycles is real or not it’s still fun to talk about periods in front of a bunch of squeamish men. Kinda because they’re squeamish men. Which……kills me. Do we get embarrassed when dudes talk about their testicle sweat or armpit hair? Well…ok..maybe a bit.

But…..

…. menstruation and periods and talk about sanitary products and tampons still makes people (ladies and men alike) squirm. Which has to end.

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OK…back to Ohio SHRM.

At this conference I met the absolutely most awesome woman and entrepreneur named Clair Coder – she had a booth and I got pins and we took pictures together (I can’t find them) and she gave me a bunch of tampons.

I just loved everything about Claire and her company so I (1) fan-girled all over her (2) helped coordinate her speaking gig at this past Wednesday’s #DisruptHRCincy and (3) pinned her down for an interview. Here’s what I asked and what she had to say:

You started Aunt Flow in 2016 – what was your inspiration? 

I founded Aunt Flow after I unexpectedly got my period in public without the supplies I needed. I was at an event and was trapped. Surrounded by men and no tampons in the bathroom, I ended up leaving the event early. At that point in time, I decided it was critical to change the world, one cycle at a time. I now ask companies “If you are offering a ping pong table, beer, even toilet paper for free, why aren’t you offering the necessary menstrual supplies?”

One of the cool things you do is donate 10 tampons to an organization of the buyer’s choice for every 100 tampons purchased?  What are some of the groups or organizations where donations have gone?

Aunt Flow has donated 77,000 menstrual products to-date. We work with organizations ranging from Period Menstrual Movement to Mid-Ohio Food Bank and Dress for Success.

Where do you hope to take the business? 

Aunt Flow’s mission is to ensure EVERYONE has access to menstrual products. We do this by selling our products to businesses, so companies can offer them for free in their bathrooms for employees and guests. We are celebrating our 1-year birthday at the end of November. By that time, it is my goal to have donated over 100,000 tampons to organizations across the USA that support menstruators in need. 

What’s your mantra?

People helping people. PERIOD.

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OMG I love everything about this!

  1. Let’s de-mysistify a natural human function
  2. Let’s treat the biological needs of both genders on an equal basis
  3. Let’s ensure women and girls the world over have access to basic necessities
  4. Let’s take care of all our employees – stocking tampons is as common sense as stocking toilet paper
  5. Let’s remember that (as Aunt Flow tells us) – “Many of the 26.4 million menstruators living in poverty in the United States must resort to plastic bags and dirty socks to stop the flow. No one should ever be forced to choose between food and tampons.”

Period.

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Follow @GoAuntFlow

More cool stuff about Claire:

The Founder of Aunt Flow on Why Everyone Should Have Access to Tampons – Teen Vogue

This 20-Year-Old Entrepreneur Wants You to Get Free Tampons – Glamour

This gender-neutral period company partners with businesses to make tampons as accessible as toilet paper – Yahoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 1987 Personnel Technology Conference #HRTechConf

Imagine, if you will, that the HR Tech Conference had not held its inaugural event 20 years ago but had, instead, started up thirty years ago in 1987. 

I don’t know about y’all but I was working in an office in 1987; a recruitment agency to be exact. Our fanciest “technology” consisted of the ability to transfer our phones from our suburban branch office to the downtown Milwaukee HQ office when we were going to have a meeting or whatever. This was, to our minds, the most magical thing ever!  And, somehow, we always needed to transfer the phones every Friday about 3pm. Coincidental that this was also when we locked the doors and mixed cocktails like the gang at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce? Maybe. 

Oh we had some other technology at our disposal; a green screen DOS database that served as our system of record for client information; candidate information was saved via paper resumes and note cards with cryptic codes and abbreviations. We had a very expensive and newfangled fax machine that churned out an endless cascade of shiny paper and necessitated a scissors be nearby to cut the pages apart.  Job orders were handwritten (triplicate; carbon paper) and stored in a filing cabinet once a candidate was placed. Invoicing after that placement was done via mail…US mail. With stamps and everything.  

So what would the Personnel Technology Conference have been like in 1987? What would the vendors have been selling? Floppy disks? Bigger and better fax machines? Mechanical pencils? 

Some of the slogans and marketing messages we hear today could just have easily been uttered to an HR Gal/Guy in 1987:

  • “this will solve all your problems”
  • “we’re changing the way you work”
  • “transformation”

Oh…and by the way? It may be incredibly unhip and tragically uncool to admit it but MY Human Resources team still sends and receives faxes every day; doctor’s offices, benefits providers, government agencies and financial institutions and lenders.  Every day.  #Flashback 1987 

Women in HR Technology #HRTechConf #nextchat

Today is the start of the HR Technology Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas; it’s the 20th annual event and we’re kicking off with the 2nd Annual Women in HR Tech pre-conference event today. Sessions include:

and many more.

The blended topics at the intersection of gender, technology and workplace inclusion make regular headlines and they’re important conversations. Yet, for many HR practitioners who either don’t work in tech or live here with me in “flyover country” the discussions are seen as much ado about nothing. Admittedly, I’m not basing that opinion on anything other than my own anecdotal experiences. To wit: within the last few months I spoke to two separate HR audiences, a thousand miles apart, and when I asked these several hundred HR practitioners/leaders who had heard of James Damore’s “google manifesto” the vast majority were unfamiliar. Which made me sad. This is important for human resources leaders to discuss and it’s not just about “women in tech;” there are bigger issues surrounding gender inclusion and ongoing stereotypes in any workplace/industry.

So yeah…I’m quite thrilled that for the second year the team the #HRTechConf is providing an opportunity for us to have these conversations.

In addition, SHRM will be running this week’s #nextchat live from the conference; join Conference presenter Cecile Alper-Leroux @cecilehcm; and members of the HR Tech Insiders Blogger Team: Dawn Burke @DawnHBurke, Heather Bussing @HeatherBussing, Heather Kinzie @HeatherKinzie, Jennifer Payne @JennyJensHR, (and me!) as we discuss “Women in HR Tech” live on the twitterz at 3 PM/ET on Wednesday (tomorrow).

p.s. check out this great post “Women and Tech – The Pace of Change” from Heather Bussing.

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image: Wikipedia: About 8,000 women worked in Bletchley Park, the central site for British cryptanalysts during World War II. Women constituted roughly 75% of the workforce there