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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hold the Phone

blue rotary phoneWant to get someone to click your blog post link, attend your conference breakout session or download your whitepaper? Apparently, as we sit here in 2016, you can ensure that happens by using the word “disruption” (or some variant) in the title of your content.

We in HR are told we best be disrupting something or, if we’re not, we may as well be wilting away and dying. I hear that, I swear to you, every single day.

And yeah…I get it. I believe it. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time exhorting my fellow HR professionals to push, prod, and question. Challenge the status quo! Fight the machine! Bust those the HR stereotypes that tell us we’re not only clueless and out-of-touch but also slow to react!

I’ve written blog posts about disruption. I’ve done presentations at conferences with the word “disrupt” in the title. I even spoke at one of the first DisruptHR events in Cleveland. (I used the word “penis” in my opening sentence of that one; admittedly with the intent of leading some of the HR gals to clutch their pearls.)

But…every now and again I, and you too I bet, want a moment of relaxation. Enough with the disruption.

Sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to crawl back into the soothing comfort of benefit administrivia; blissfully spending your day reviewing monthly utilization reports and reconciling STD/LTD plan invoices. There’s nothing wrong, my friends, with scheduling some down time in the file room. (We all still have those archived files don’t we; ancient artifacts from the days before we captured electronic signatures and scanned and stored everything ‘in the cloud?”) Go ahead; dress in jeans, escape to the dusty confines, and spend a lazy afternoon sorting and organizing.

Remember when you perused paper applications, picked up the phone, and actually called (omg! the horror!) your applicants? Try it again when you want to calm your nerves; for old times’ sake.

Oh. Wait. That might be disruptive.

Settle down.

Curiosity did NOT Kill the (HR Lady’s) Cat

curiosity catOne tip I regularly give HR professionals is “be wildly curious about EVERYTHING.” I would put that on a tshirt or maybe even embroider it on pillow if I could sew.

I want HR pros to listen. I want them to read and pay attention. I want them to think.

When explaining away our lack of awareness on any-given-issue we quickly say “I’m too busy.” “I don’t have time.” “I have to get up at 6 AM before I walk the dog and get the kids ready before I even head to the office. I don’t have time to read or stay on top of things.”

BS.

Granted, my child is grown (although I do have four dogs) and I have the luxury of working from home now BUT I still maintain the same habits I have for years. I’ve loaded my RSS reader (I’ve used Feedly ever since the demise of Google Reader) and the content comes right to me; I check everything out first thing in the morning (about 6:30 AM), check for updates at lunchtime and then, when slagged out on the couch watching HGTV after dinner, I scroll through more news in the evening. When I’m sitting at the dentist’s office, the DMV, or waiting for a colleague to meet me at the local coffee shop…I read.

Easy peasy – and certainly much more productive than wasting another 15 minutes on a round of Cookie Jam which is, let me admit, my new jam. Sigh.

Here’s the deal…don’t wait for your monthly copy of HR Magazine to come in the mail. Don’t decide you’ll hang on to your questions or conundrums until you toddle off to the monthly SHRM chapter meeting and figure you can ask Trixie from ABC Company who happens to sit at your table about HER ‘best practice’ (kill me now) for Topic A. Wait too long and the stuff you want to talk about will be out of date. Or, needless to say, you could have followed the well-heeded advice to “GTS” and found your damn answer in a flash.

Be proactive and your developed awareness will serve you well.

So where to start? What to dive into? Here are just a few suggestions to load into your ‘must read list” (NOT all inclusive):

Over on Twitter I want you to follow #HRTechConf #nextchat #tchat #rdaily and #omcchat to name just a few.

Yes; it takes a few minutes to load this stuff into your reader (or subscribe via email if that’s your preferred medium) but reading this content will become as natural to you as it did when your grandpa sat at the breakfast table and read the morning paper. I bet he did that; mine did it every morning.

Curiosity is critical for HR professionals and I think that’s the #1 competency despite what SHRM might say.

Be curious.

Be smart.

Be interested.

Be “interesting.”