Workforce Solutions
August 15, 2022

Combating Breast Cancer: How Workplaces Can Make A Difference

Cogent Infotech
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August 15, 2022

Breast cancer is not just a medical concern; it is a significant workplace issue that demands the attention of employers and organizations worldwide. Approximately 1 in 8 women develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.

Each year, millions of women are diagnosed with breast cancer, making it the most common cancer among women globally. The American Cancer Society reports that breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women, highlighting the urgency of the issue.

Addressing breast cancer in the workplace goes beyond mere statistics. It is about recognizing that employees' health and wellbeing profoundly impact their productivity and job satisfaction. When employees are supported in their health journeys, they tend to be more engaged and loyal to their employers.

Employers play a pivotal role in promoting breast health and cancer prevention. A workplace that prioritizes breast cancer awareness and prevention sends a powerful message to its employees: 'Your health matters to us.'

Understanding the Risks of Breast Cancer

Understanding the risk factors associated with breast cancer is crucial for both employers and employees. Some factors, such as age and genetics, are beyond one's control. However, lifestyle choices can significantly influence risk. Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption, and certain hormonal therapies are among the modifiable risk factors.

Employers can promote breast cancer prevention by fostering a workplace culture that encourages a healthy lifestyle. Initiatives such as fitness programs, nutrition counseling, and smoking cessation support can reduce modifiable risk factors. By providing access to these resources, employers empower their workforce to make informed choices that promote breast health.

Early detection of breast cancer dramatically improves outcomes. Regular breast self-exams, clinical breast exams by healthcare professionals, and mammography are key components of early detection. Mammograms, in particular, are instrumental in identifying breast cancer in its early stages when treatment is often less aggressive and more successful. The American Cancer Society recommends that women at average risk start annual mammograms at age 40. Employers can play a pivotal role by offering health insurance plans that cover these screenings and by granting employees the flexibility to attend appointments during working hours.

Beyond mammography, employers can educate their workforce about the importance of regular self-exams and clinical breast exams. These simple practices empower individuals to become advocates for their health.

Employer's Role in Breast Cancer Prevention

Breast cancer prevention is not solely the responsibility of healthcare professionals; employers have a crucial role to play in fostering a supportive and proactive environment. These are some of the initiatives that employers can take for breast cancer prevention:

Providing Comprehensive Health Insurance Coverage

Comprehensive health insurance coverage is crucial for any effective employee healthcare strategy. When it comes to breast cancer, early detection can make a lot of difference. This is why providing health insurance plans that cover breast cancer screenings, including mammograms, is critical.

Statistically, women who have health insurance are more likely to undergo routine mammograms. The number of women aged between 50-74 with health insurance has got themselves tested as compared to those who do not have insurance.

Employers can make a significant impact by ensuring that their health insurance plans cover these critical screenings. It enables employees to prioritize their health without thinking of financial constraints.

Google is renowned for its comprehensive employee benefits. They offer health insurance plans that cover essential breast cancer screenings, including mammograms. Google's commitment to employee health includes preventive care as a fundamental part of its insurance offerings.

Flexible Work Arrangements for Medical Appointments

Work should never be a barrier to accessing healthcare. Employers can support breast cancer prevention by offering flexible work arrangements that accommodate medical appointments. Regular clinical breast exams, mammograms, and follow-up appointments are essential components of early detection.

A study found that women who had flexible work arrangements were able to maintain good well-being. By granting employees the flexibility they need to attend medical appointments, employers not only promote breast cancer prevention but also demonstrate their commitment to employee wellbeing.

Accenture, a global consulting and professional services firm, offers flexible work arrangements, including the option to adjust work schedules to accommodate medical appointments. They prioritize work-life balance and recognize that employees may need time for healthcare needs.

Encouraging Regular Self-exams and Screenings

While health insurance coverage and flexible work arrangements are critical, encouraging employees to get self-examination done is equally important. Employers can educate their workforce about the significance of regular self-exams and clinical breast exams.

Studies have shown that women who perform breast self-exams are more likely to detect breast abnormalities early. By disseminating information and resources on self-exams and the importance of screenings, employers empower their employees to be proactive in their health.

The Estée Lauder Companies have been dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer for over three decades. Even in October 2023, the company launched its annual campaign as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Offering Resources and Support to Employees and Their Families

Breast cancer can impact not only employees but also their families. Employers can provide valuable resources and support networks to employees and their loved ones affected by breast cancer.

This support can include access to counseling services, support groups, and educational materials. Furthermore, offering a comprehensive employee assistance program that encompasses emotional and mental health support is crucial. A study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that employees who utilized such programs were more likely to seek early breast cancer screenings.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has a dedicated program under the Bristol Myers Squibb Network of Women (B-NOW) that focuses on women's health issues, including breast cancer awareness. They provide educational resources, sponsor mammography screening events, and offer support to employees facing breast cancer diagnoses. BMS actively encourages employees to prioritize their breast health.

Supporting Women with a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Support shouldn't end at prevention; it should extend to those who are battling breast cancer. Employers can assist employees facing a breast cancer diagnosis by offering accommodations, such as modified work schedules or remote work options, to help individuals manage their treatment and recovery without compromising their careers.

Additionally, employers can facilitate a compassionate and understanding workplace environment free from stigma or discrimination. Encouraging open communication and flexibility is essential for women living and working with breast cancer.

Ford Motor Company's 'Warriors in Pink' campaign not only raises breast cancer awareness but also offers resources and support for employees who are living and working with breast cancer. They encourage open communication and provide flexible work options, making it easier for employees to balance their treatment and work responsibilities.

Employee Health and Wellbeing Programme

To truly make a difference in breast cancer prevention, employers can implement best-practice employee health and wellbeing programs. These programs can address some of the main risk factors for breast cancer, such as obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.

By promoting physical activity, healthy eating, and stress management, employers can help employees reduce their risk of breast cancer and other chronic diseases. These programs not only contribute to a healthier workforce but also enhance employee engagement and productivity.

Benefits to Business of Tackling Breast Cancer in the Workplace

Tackling breast cancer in the workplace isn't just a matter of social responsibility; it makes sound business sense. The benefits to business by tackling breast cancer in the workplace are as follows:

Avoiding Lost Productivity

One of the most compelling reasons for businesses to tackle breast cancer in the workplace is the avoidance of lost productivity. When employees face a breast cancer diagnosis in its advanced stages, it can result in extended medical leaves, frequent hospital visits, and reduced efficiency. Globally, advanced breast cancer management is three times more expensive compared to early breast cancer management.

The resource-intensive treatments required for advanced breast cancer, such as aggressive chemotherapy and extensive medical interventions, often lead to prolonged absences from work. Furthermore, these treatments can have serious physical, mental, emotional, and financial effects on patients and their caregivers, making it even more challenging for them to return to work promptly.

By promoting breast cancer prevention and early detection, businesses can significantly reduce the likelihood of employees facing advanced-stage breast cancer diagnoses. This, in turn, helps maintain a productive workforce, ensuring that employees can continue contributing effectively to the company's goals and objectives.

Reducing Medical Costs

The financial implications of advanced breast cancer are substantial not only for individuals but also for employers. Advanced breast cancers require expensive treatments, including surgeries, radiation therapy, and medications. Moreover, the long-term healthcare costs associated with managing advanced cancer can place a significant burden on businesses.

In contrast, early detection of breast cancer often leads to less aggressive and costly treatment options. Mammography and regular clinical breast exams can identify cancer at its earliest stages when it is most treatable, and the treatments are less resource-intensive. By encouraging employees to undergo regular screenings and providing health insurance coverage for such procedures, businesses can help reduce the financial strain on both employees and the company itself.

Retaining Women in the Workforce

The value of retaining women in the workforce and maximizing their contributions to future economic growth is a key consideration for businesses worldwide. Many women diagnosed with breast cancer can continue to work and thrive in a supportive workplace environment. However, women with more advanced cancer or those undergoing aggressive chemotherapy find it challenging to continue their employment.

Businesses that actively support breast cancer prevention and early detection send a powerful message to their female employees: 'We care about your wellbeing.' This support not only enhances employee loyalty but also improves morale and motivation. When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to remain committed to their roles and contribute to the company's success.

Retaining experienced and skilled female employees is also advantageous for the long-term growth and sustainability of businesses. These employees bring valuable expertise and perspectives to the workforce, and their contributions can be instrumental in achieving organizational goals.

Importance of Breast Cancer Prevention Among Employees for Employers

Establishing breast cancer prevention as a priority within the workplace is not just a matter of corporate responsibility; it's a smart business decision. Here's why prevention is crucial for both employees and employers:

Demonstrating Corporate Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is a vital aspect of an organization's reputation and brand. By establishing a workplace culture that values employee health and wellbeing and providing tools and resources to support healthy choices, employers send a powerful message to employees and the broader community. It shows that the company is committed to more than just profits; it cares about the health and welfare of its workforce.

This commitment can enhance the organization's reputation and attract and retain top talent. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that values their health and supports their wellbeing.

For instance, Bank of America has partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure through its Pink Ribbon Banking program. This initiative offered specialized financial products, and a portion of the proceeds went toward breast cancer research. Bank of America also runs internal awareness campaigns and encourages employees to participate in local Komen Race for the Cure events.

Similarly, Delta Air Lines launched the Breast Cancer One initiative, featuring a pink-themed aircraft to raise awareness about breast cancer. This initiative not only promotes awareness among passengers but also honors breast cancer survivors among Delta's employees. Delta actively engages employees in awareness activities and provides resources to maintain their breast health.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

In some regions, there are legal requirements for employers to provide certain health-related benefits, including breast cancer screenings and preventive services. Complying with these legal obligations is not just a necessity; it's also a reflection of ethical principles.

Fostering a supportive workplace environment that actively promotes breast cancer prevention aligns with ethical considerations. It demonstrates an organization's commitment to the welfare of its employees and the broader community.

Walmart, as one of the largest employers in the world, ensures compliance with legal standards related to employee health benefits. They offer comprehensive health insurance to their employees, which includes coverage for screenings like mammograms. This aligns with their ethical commitment to the wellbeing of their workforce.

Reducing Healthcare Costs

Breast cancer, particularly when diagnosed in advanced stages, can lead to substantial healthcare costs. Aggressive treatments, surgeries, and long-term healthcare management can place a significant financial burden on both employees and employers.

On the other hand, investing in breast cancer prevention and early detection programs can lead to cost savings. These programs encourage regular screenings, which are more cost-effective than treating advanced-stage cancer. Moreover, by promoting overall health and wellness, employers can help reduce the risk factors associated not only with breast cancer but also with other costly chronic conditions.

How to Build a Successful Programme?

Building a successful workplace breast cancer initiative is a structured journey that involves four essential phases: Assess, Design, Implement, and Evaluate. Each phase is crucial in ensuring that the program is effective, meets the needs of your workforce, and contributes to the broader goal of breast cancer prevention and support.

Phase 1: Assess

Assessment is the foundation upon which successful workplace breast cancer initiatives are built. Here are the key steps that can be taken in this phase:

Identify Needs and Goals

Begin by identifying the unique needs and goals of your organization. Consider factors such as your workforce demographics, existing healthcare benefits, and the prevalence of breast cancer risk factors among employees. Understanding these elements will help you tailor your program to address specific concerns.

Employee Engagement

Engage with employees to gain insights into their attitudes, knowledge, and preferences regarding breast cancer awareness and prevention initiatives. Surveys, focus groups, and open communication channels can provide valuable feedback that shapes your program.

Research and Data Analysis

Leverage existing research and data on breast cancer prevalence and risk factors to inform your program's design. Understanding the local, regional, or industry-specific context is essential for targeted interventions.

Case Studies and Best Practices

Explore case studies and best practices from organizations with successful breast cancer initiatives. Learn from their experiences, challenges, and achievements to adopt strategies that align with your organization's culture and goals.

Phase 2: Design

Designing an effective program involves creating a strategic blueprint that addresses the identified needs and goals. The steps to be followed in this stage are:

Tailored Solutions

Use the insights gathered in the assessment phase to tailor your program to meet the specific needs of your workforce. Consider offering a range of initiatives, from breast health education to screening support, that align with your employees' preferences and schedules.

Communication Strategies

Develop clear and engaging communication strategies to raise awareness about your program. Utilize various channels, including emails, newsletters, posters, and workplace meetings, to inform employees about breast cancer prevention and support resources.

Partnerships and Resources

Forge partnerships with local healthcare providers, non-profit organizations, and breast cancer advocacy groups. Collaborating with experts in the field can enhance the quality and reach of your program. Leverage available resources, such as brochures, videos, and webinars, to educate and empower your employees.

Budget and Implementation Timeline

Allocate a budget that supports the program's objectives and ensure that resources are available when needed. Create a realistic timeline that outlines the implementation schedule, milestones, and responsible parties.

Phase 3: Implement

Implementation is the active phase where your program comes to life, and employees engage with the initiatives you've designed. It can be done by:

Employee Training

Provide training sessions or workshops to educate employees about breast cancer prevention, early detection, and available resources. Equip them with the knowledge and skills needed to make informed decisions about their breast health.

Awareness Campaigns

Launch awareness campaigns that capture employees' attention and motivate them to participate. Consider hosting events, organizing walks, or running social media campaigns to promote breast health within the workplace.

Screening Support

Offer logistical support for breast cancer screenings, such as mammograms and clinical breast exams. Provide information on where and how to schedule screenings, as well as the importance of regular check-ups.

Wellness Initiatives

Integrate breast health into your organization's wellness initiatives. Encourage employees to adopt healthy lifestyles through fitness challenges, nutrition programs, and stress management activities that can reduce breast cancer risk factors.

Phase 4: Evaluate

Evaluation is the ongoing process of assessing the impact and effectiveness of your program to make informed adjustments. Here is the way to go about it:

Data Collection

Collect and analyze data to measure the program's success. Utilize metrics such as participation rates, employee feedback, and screening results to assess the program's impact on breast cancer prevention and support.

Feedback Loops

Continuously engage with employees to gather feedback on their experiences with the program. Use this feedback to make adjustments and improvements that align with changing needs and preferences.


Benchmark your program against industry standards and best practices. Identify areas where your program excels and areas that require enhancement or refinement.

Reporting and Transparency

Share the results and outcomes of your program with employees, stakeholders, and leadership. Transparency in reporting builds trust and demonstrates the organization's commitment to employee health and well-being.

Summing up

Workplaces hold immense potential in the battle against breast cancer. Through comprehensive initiatives, employers can empower their employees to make informed choices about their breast health, thus reducing the risk of this formidable disease.

Employers can be champions in the fight against breast cancer by fostering awareness, providing access to screenings, and offering support to those affected. Fostering a supportive workplace environment in the fight against breast cancer is not just about business; it's about humanity. It's about recognizing that every employee is a valuable individual whose well-being matters.

Cogent Infotech helps organizations build a future-ready workforce. Visit our website and read other insightful articles and resources.

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