When Faith Holloway mentions to people that she works for Hospice UK’s Compassionate Employers programme, too often what follows is a horror story of how someone they knew and loved was treated by their employer, after a terminal diagnosis.
Fewer than 5% of organisations even have a terminal diagnosis illness policy in place. When an employee is still reeling from hearing the worst possible news, it’s depressing how frequently employers respond with silence, confusing messages or decide it’s a good idea to put the employee on a performance review for having cancer.
A high-profile case of a father of two, who was unfairly dismissed from a senior role during his cancer treatment, after 36 years’ service, made media headlines when he was awarded £2.5 million by his employer.1 While highlighting both the legal and financial implications for employers, Faith focused more on the moral and ethical case for being a compassionate employer when she spoke at this year’s Health and Wellbeing at Work conference, and Faith writes our lead article this issue.
Offering a wake-up call to employers, Faith told the conference that in the time it took her to give her talk, another seven people would have been diagnosed with a terminal illness in the UK. The message is clear – get prepared. Compassion and competence go a long way when working with an employee facing an early death, and the way in which an employer responds, kindly or otherwise, will be remembered for years to come, far and wide, becoming part of the organisation’s memory and legacy.
Staying with the theme of compassionate employers, Jane Moffett considers how female employees who experience a miscarriage can be better supported and whether more can be done at work to break down the taboo of speaking about a miscarriage in the workplace.
I interview Bernie Wright, who speaks with honesty about her own experience of being neurodivergent (ND) and how she supports other ND people in her work as both a therapist and trainer. Bernie explains how one of the surprising opportunities presented by lockdown was how it led ND employees to become far more empowered and vocal members of the workforce, able to ask for what they needed and unwilling to stay silent any more.
Which brings me on to why I’d like to say thank you here to those readers who have been in touch and pointed out that neurodivergence hasn’t been covered nearly enough in BACP Workplace. It’s led me to have some fascinating conversations with ND therapists and supervisors specialising in this area; and be assured that you can expect much more on this huge topic in future issues. In the meantime, if you too have an interesting article idea related to neurodiversity and the world of work, please do drop me a line; I’d love to hear from you.
Editor, BACP Workplace