Part of the job of Facility Management is to ensure that the toilets are stocked up. That means that we need to have toilet paper, paper towels, soap, trash bags, and cleaning supplies. Something that is not traditionally stocked are menstrual products, consisting of tampons or pads. We go so far as to stock up on wax bags to collect the refuse of these. But, we generally do not provide the products themselves.
Recently, I went to an IFMA (International Facility Management Association) conference. I received an email invitation to meet with a representative over lunch to talk about my menstrual needs while at the conference. Being male, I don't have such needs. I did not RSVP.
After the conference, however, I received a follow-up email. I decided to visit https://www.goauntflow.com to see what they are offering.
The company makes one compelling argument that resonated with me. We provide toilet paper at the toilets. Why don't we provide menstrual products? I could argue that these products are expensive. I've had to buy them for family from time to time.
But, other arguments also drove it home. There is productivity lost during those days in which women are surprised. I inquired with my co-workers. They agreed that some days they are caught by surprise, causing them to go around asking others for spare pads or tampons. Part of my job as Facility Manager is to ensure that my building occupants are able to focus on their jobs, which is how a company pays the bills. Therefore, eliminating this distraction falls within my scope of responsibilities.
Of course, being sympathetic and actually making a purchase are two separate things. What finalized my decision to provide free menstrual products to my building occupants was that Aunt Flow sells these in bulk. A case of 500 pads or 500 tampons sell for $125. I think this is a reasonable price. The unit cost, excluding shipping, is roughly $0.25 each. While this is more per user than what it costs in toilet paper and soap, it is only spent on half of my occupants and only for a few days.
Of course, these products are enough to get through the day until better products can be acquired. But, they are enough to avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment to have to ask others for spares.
Yesterday, we received our first order. According to Aunt Flow's experience, we can expect the products to be "stolen" (they're free, so is it stealing?) for the first two or three months. Once it is clear that these products are free and won't disappear someday, then they will be taken at a rate closer to actual use.
This is an odd, very personal, product that I don't expect to hear about to determine the success of the offering. My only metric will likely be how often I have to reorder cases of the products. I also expect that my custodians will keep me updated on how fast they are having to restock to give me lead time to reorder.