In the studio of furniture maker “Louis”, in Labège, on the outskirts of Toulouse, Jessica and Margot are putting their hands on the finishing touches for a large office order that will soon leave for Paris. Like their male colleagues, every day, these cabinetmakers sand, shell, carry wooden plates weighing several kilos to transform them into customizable furniture.
But some days, they find it more difficult to follow the rhythm, to stay upright when their period invites itself once a month in their daily life. So much so that Margot must have already left in the middle of the morning and posed for half a day, bent by pain. Since March 8, her employer has offered her the opportunity to take menstrual leave once a month. And it is symbolically on the date of Women’s Rights Day that the young company decided to endorse this measure.
Which is far from being a simple display decision for the company very committed to gender equality where we already find, for example, self-service sanitary napkins.
At the initiative of the employees
An initiative that was first carried out by two employees. “The idea was raised during a meeting. Lucie mentioned the possibility of setting up menstrual leave, I found it to be an important subject and I supported it because every month, colleagues may have to take a day off because of that, and I don’t find it fair, “explains Manu, “harassment” referent of this young shoot of 18 employees, half of whom are women.
After collecting various information on the impact of menstruation for women and this provision which has been in force for years, but which has no legal framework in France, they presented the measure to all of their colleagues. “A way to lift the taboo of periods” for Manu.
But also to put more at ease the employees who can take this day at short notice, without having the agreement of their manager. “I tell myself that I have the opportunity to put this day if I need it, it’s reassuring”, explains Margot who until now was either on sick leave or lost a day of paid vacation. So far, neither she nor her colleagues have had to resort to it. “Knowing that you can count on it is cool, while being honest and not taking it if you don’t need it. There is no abuse”, continues Jessica who admits to having also learned things during the presentation of the project by her colleagues.
Well-being and corporate culture
“It also informed the guys at the box who took this step calmly. If it breaks taboos in the company, that’s great, if it can also break them in society, that’s even better,” continues the 29-year-old cabinetmaker. And that’s how it means Thomas Devineaux, the general manager of the Louis company who has already received requests from other companies to find out how he is doing. “We can fight against sexism by taking action. The profession of cabinetmakers is traditionally male, but for us 45% of our team are women. When the reflection was posed in a meeting, we told you about the subject, it has to be participatory”, says the one who co-founded “Louis” alongside Paul Gely and Baulieu de Reboul.
And he had no trouble being convinced. He sees only positive points in this initiative, beyond the essential one of the well-being at work of his employees. In a shared and restricted document, they roughly indicate the period of their periods. “For us, it gives visibility and avoids the unexpected, we can anticipate production schedules, it takes the mental load off. But the most important fact is that it’s a commitment from everyone and for the culture of the box it’s great and it moves the lines, ”says the young entrepreneur.
All employees have also agreed to sign a charter to this effect. And each new employee will also have to comply with it, “otherwise it means that he does not share our values”. And if by chance someone came to speak to him about discrimination against men, the latter did not hesitate for a moment to retort: ”it is not a disease, but a natural constraint which weighs on women for thirty – five years, so if we can promote the fullness of people, we do so. It’s something that we believe has been accomplished”, Thomas Devineaux.