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  • Writer's pictureLiz Naulls

3 Great Reasons to Review Your Workplace Cancer Readiness.

Updated: Jan 3

Just for a moment, stop and take a look around your workplace. Who can you see? Colleagues, coworkers, direct reports? Most likely people of different grades, doing different roles but (hopefully) all pulling together to deliver brilliant customer outcomes, great service, and stellar results. Now look again. Amongst these brilliant people, the sobering likelihood is that one of them has or will have direct experience of a cancer diagnosis. You may have experienced this yourself or have a close family member diagnosed with cancer.

We know thinking about cancer is tough, its seemingly random nature with no easy answers and so many questions. As a leader, as a colleague, as a human It can make you feel helpless. We get it. Whilst we can’t stop Cancer from happening, what we can do is help organisations like yours be as prepared as possible for when it does. We call this being ‘Cancer Ready’ and it can make a massive difference to everyone in your organisation from the CEO through to the check-out.

If you need more convincing, read on for our top three reasons why you should act today.

  1. Understand and mitigate the risk of employee discrimination (direct or indirect) Whilst you might have a myriad of policies in place around sickness absence, did you know that Cancer is a protected characteristic when it comes to disability discrimination in the workplace? Have you factored in the difference between Cancer and other types of illness that requires time off work? Are line managers equipped with the right skills and knowledge to manage with empathy? If not, you aren’t alone, most employers* haven’t either. But the reality is that this poses a significant risk to your organisation. Disability discrimination cases involving Cancer are more common that you’d think, with many employers falling foul simply by lack of preparedness rather than outright intent to discriminate. But this doesn’t make it right and tribunal awards for disability discrimination are uncapped. And its not just a financial risk, whilst being unprepared for Cancer in the workplace might be costly (in terms of the penalty imposed) the adverse publicity presents a significant reputational risk too. In recent years, some very large organisations have even seen falls in share price , along with dents in investor and customer sentiment. Think about cancer like you think about health and safety legislation; taking proactive steps to mitigate the workplace risk before an incident happens should be considered a business imperative.

  2. Being Cancer ready makes a clear statement about the culture of your organisation The old adage ‘deed not words’ seems appropriate here. So be proactive; create specific employee polices that are not only transparent and fair but policies that engender a zero-tolerance approach to Cancer discrimination. Ensuring line managers are properly trained with the resources to manage really tough conversations and being clear what external support is available for employees (and how to access it) are all powerful tools to really demonstrate your organisational culture in action.

  3. Make provision for the whole workforce Private medical insurance (PMI) can cover the costs of private cancer diagnosis and treatment. With the NHS under pressure more than ever before, it is a fantastic employee benefit but due to the eye watering premiums, its often available only to the top ten or twenty percent of the workforce, typically senior leaders. Inadvertently this top down (hierarchical) approach to health benefits might be in direct contrast to an organisational culture which champions inclusivity and equality. Being Cancer ready means challenging this status quo. It means being more proactive, more demanding and finding more affordable employee health benefits that support the whole workforce when it matters most.


If you want to know more about being Cancer Ready or to undertake a your Cancer readiness assessment, register to our upcoming webinar.






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