Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Creating a Culture of Compassion and Support
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While many companies are showing their support for breast cancer survivors by flying pink flags and handing out pink ribbons, there is much more that companies can do to support survivors not only in October, but consistently throughout the year. Here are five tips for creating a culture of compassion and support:
Tip #1: Respect Employees’ Right to Privacy
First and foremost, employers must respect their employees’ right to privacy. Even if a manager or supervisor is aware of an employee’s breast cancer diagnosis, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the employee wants to be the face of the company’s breast cancer awareness campaign. Not only is this a matter of personal respect, but violating employees’ privacy rights can also get employers into deep trouble.
Tip #2: Provide Resources Employees Can Access in Confidence
For employees who have questions or concerns about breast cancer, simply knowing where to find reliable information can be challenging. As a result, providing resources can be a great way to show both compassion and support. Of course, employees should be able to access these resources confidentially, and they should not have to disclose any personal health information to gain access to the information that the company makes available.
Tip #3: Implement Effective Anti-Harassment Policies and Procedures
Harassment can take many forms. Even if coworkers are not intending to cause harm, comments about an employee’s medical condition or appearance can have significant emotional effects and create an uncomfortable and hostile work environment. With this in mind, employers should ensure that they have implemented effective anti-harassment policies and procedures that educate their employees on what is acceptable (and what isn’t) as well as the consequences of engaging in harassment in the workplace.
Tip #4: Take Complaints Seriously and Respond Promptly
Along with implementing effective anti-harassment policies and procedures, employers should also ensure that they have protocols in place so that they can respond to complaints promptly. Employers should make clear that they take all complaints seriously, and they should take appropriate remedial action while also supporting employees who are subjected to inappropriate and hurtful comments—whether in person or online.
Tip #5: Small Steps Can Make a Big Difference
Finally, while some employers may need to make significant strides toward protecting their employees from harassment in the workplace, even small steps can make a big difference. Flags and ribbons show that employers and co-workers care, and posters and other educational materials can help to foster a culture of compassion and support. Ultimately, companies should take a customized approach that reflects their (and their employees) individual circumstances while giving due consideration to the privacy, anti-harassment and other laws that apply.
Questions? Contact Us to Speak with a Senior HR Consultant in Confidence
Do you have questions about what your company can (and should) be doing to support breast cancer survivors? If so, we invite you to get in touch. To speak with a senior HR consultant at AR Group in confidence, please call 720-452-3300 or request a consultation online today.