The company that makes the DivaCup is doing something “daring”: implementing a companywide Paid Menstrual Leave policy. Menstruating employees may now choose to opt into the policy that provides a maximum of 12 paid days per calendar year. One menstrual leave day may be taken per month. In Canada, there are currently about 50 employees at Diva. We chatted with CEO and founder Carinne Chambers-Saini to learn more. —Noa Nichol
Hi Carinne! Please tell us a bit about yourself and Diva to start.
Hi! I started the company over 20 years ago with my mother and together we really brought menstrual cups to the mass market. We are headquartered and manufactured here in Canada. When you start and grow a company for 20 years its impossible not to have a lot of your personal values mirrored in your business values; Diva is BCORP certified, we pride ourselves in being a sustainable choice in the menstrual care industry and were the first menstrual cup brand to launch our own recycling program with TerraCycle. So for me personally, family is the centre of everything—my husband is my partner in everything and president of Diva International Inc. and together we have two amazing children. I enjoy spending time in nature and am passionate about environmental issues and a big advocate for menstrual equity. I also really love my dogs, haha!
Diva announced this week that it has implemented a companywide Paid Menstrual Leave policy. What does this policy entail, and how/why was the decision made to implement it?
Yes! We are really pleased to now offer a Paid Menstrual Leave policy at Diva. Under this policy all menstruating employees will now have a maximum of 12 paid days per calendar year—one menstrual leave day may be taken per month as menstrual leave. There’s also no doctor’s note required, and we did this because pain associated with periods can be so undermined and diminished and we really stand behind all menstruators’ experience and want to empower our employees to manage their care as they see fit. This policy was incredibly important to us, as a period positive company our mission is to destigmatize periods and create equity; last year we focused our work outward on education people about period poverty with our documentary Pandora’s Box: Lifting the lid on menstruation, the obvious next step was to look internally and focus on workplace equity for people who menstruate, starting in our own “backyard”. Paid Menstrual Leave is a natural extension to many other policies we already had in place—such as work-from-home flex and paid volunteer time—that we believe help support a working environment that fosters empathy. We saw with our own employees that their was a specific need for paid menstrual leave that our existing paid sick leave was not meeting and we needed to act. The people who work at Diva are the true key to our success and by listening and validating their needs we are able to create a happier and more productive workplace.
What precedent do you hope this sets, particularly with other Canadian employers?
I believe it is always the right business decision to pioritize your people and we wanted to make the implentation of this policy public in order to show other employers that there is a need that they may have been overlooking. Studies have shown that only about 20 per cent of employees who take time off for their periods actually report the real reason, so this is a still a very stigmatized subject in the workplace. We are hoping to change that, but true change only comes when many people action it, so my hope is that other business will see this and consider implementing a Paid Menstrual Leave policy. Diva’s impact team, who spearheaded the research into our own policy, are available to share resources with any interested party! My wish is that this is the spark of a movement towards openness and honesty about the physical and mental well being of all menstruators, then we will have done well.