Indian food delivery giant Zomato has introduced paid period leave for all of its more than 5,000 employees who menstruate, in a bid to build a more inclusive culture and tackle stigma.
In a note to employees, Zomato founder and chief Deepinder Goyal announced women and transgender people could make use of 10 additional days of leave per year, and encouraged them to take them without embarrassment.
“We want to foster a culture of trust, truth and acceptance,” Goyal wrote in the note.
“There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave. You should feel free to tell people on internal groups, or emails, that you are on your period leave for the day.”
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The 10 days of available leave was calculated based on women having about 14 menstrual cycles in a year, while allowing for the probability of some occurring at the weekend.
Employees are, therefore, able to take approximately one day of leave per menstrual cycle.
The note did, however, stress that the leave is designed to be used only when it is truly necessary. Goyan implored employees not to abuse the leave day, “or use them as a crutch to take time out for other pending tasks”.
He also called on women and those who menstruate to look after themselves.
“Regular focus on fitness and diet has a positive impact on every bit of your physical and mental health,” he said.
The move is designed to foster a more inclusive work culture in a region where menstruation is still very stigmatised.
But, even in cultures that are otherwise considered more progressive, taking time off to tend to period cramps is still taboo, and paid period leave is far from the norm.
“Men and women are born with different biological realities,” Goyal wrote.
“It is our job to make sure that we make room for our biological needs, while not lowering the bar for the quality of our work and the impact that we create.”
And to the men within the business, the chief executive had a parting message.
“Our female colleagues expressing that they are on their period leave shouldn’t be uncomfortable for us,” he wrote.
“This is a part of life, and while we don’t fully understand what women go through, we need to trust them when they say they need to rest this out.
“I know that menstrual cramps are very painful for a lot of women — and we have to support them through it if we want to build a truly collaborative culture.”