Working with Chronic Illness: Our Pledge and Promise 

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

At Schneider Electric, our purpose is to empower all individuals and create a diverse, inclusive, and caring work environment. We value differences and believe in equal opportunities for everyone, everywhere. As part of our commitment to supporting our employees, we have proudly signed the Working with Cancer pledge, demonstrating our dedication to improving the work culture for individuals facing serious illnesses such as cancer. 

Did you know research shows that 50% of employees are afraid to share their illness at work, while 92% of patients believe that the support they receive at work positively impacts their health? These statistics emphasize the crucial need for action, and at Schneider Electric, we are dedicated to ensuring that our employees feel uniquely valued and safe to contribute their best, regardless of their health challenges. 

We have implemented various initiatives to support our employees facing cancer and other chronic diseases. From flexible work arrangements through our Flex@Work policy to providing paid care leave and access to Employee Assistance Programs, we are committed to the physical, emotional, mental, and financial well-being of our employees and their families

Hear from our very own SE Great People

As they share their own journey of working with chronic illness and supporting those around them with chronic illness, and how they have been supported by their family, friends, and colleagues. They also share their advice for those who may be going through a similar journey or supporting their teams. 

I’ve beaten cancer twice, going through chemotherapy, radiation, and multiple surgeries. My advice: don’t let a diagnosis rule your life; make it fit into your life and keep living purposefully. Cancer is personal, so do what works for you. 

At Schneider Electric, sharing your situation is supported, and it won’t impact your career negatively. For managers and HR, let the employee decide what they need, offer support, and check in frequently. Taking care of our mental and physical health helps us deal with life’s uncertainties. At Schneider, we have amazing people and resources to help each other. 

Cathy Susie
Vice President, Human Resources – U.S. Business Operations

I managed a case involving an employee with cancer, dealing with absence from work, maintaining the connection during his illness, and managing his return to work. And if the announcement of a colleague’s cancer is abrupt, so is their return. The employee was part of a supervised trial and received support, helping the team understand the impact of the illness. The results show successful recovery, gradual increase in work completed, and advocacy for the support received. 

It’s very clear that unless we have been directly affected by cancer, we do not fully comprehend its impact or the consequences of the disease and treatments on an individual. Gefluc Dauphiné Savoies, a French association in Grenoble and surrounding areas, offers solutions and tools to address the needs of employees impacted by cancer, benefiting both the individuals and the company. This includes support for end-of-illness recovery, social relationships, and enhancing company efficiency and productivity. 

Alain Vidron
Safety Containment Program VP, France

Last year, I faced a breast cancer diagnosis. I made the decision to confide in my manager, peers, and team shortly after receiving the news, recognizing that I would require their assistance and encouragement. Throughout the year, I took three leaves of absence, each time recognizing that stepping away was necessary, yet undeniably difficult. I was deeply grateful for the unwavering support of my manager, who prioritized my well-being. Additionally, my peers managed my team with enthusiasm, while my direct team consistently checked in on me and ensured that operations continued smoothly.​

The past year was undoubtedly difficult, but with the backing of the company and my colleagues, I was able to focus on my health and recovery. I have now returned to work at full capacity, eager to channel my energy into Schneider Electric as I proudly celebrate my 20 years with the company this year!

Jen Curtis
Employer Brand & Early Career Recruiting Director

Schneider Electric has always encouraged our employees to look out for their well-being.  When diagnosed through a preventative test, I had no symptoms!  The only reason I was diagnosed, and I caught the cancer very early, is because Schneider Electric encouraged me to get a physical and routine health test. 

When diagnosed, I focused on treatment and mental well-being, finding invaluable support & advice from colleagues that had once faced a similar journey. My team and boss were understanding and caring, providing crucial support during my diagnosis. 

I advise managers to lead with care and empathy, ensure employees are aware of available benefits and mental health support. Keeping the dialogue open and offering assurance regarding job security is essential. Remember that it’s the employee’s whole family dealing with this, as the support of my family during the diagnosis from my boss and my peers was amazing and really helped me and my spouse through that time. 

Chris Collins​
Country President, Ireland​

The tough news, the medical journey, the surgery, and ongoing treatments – work naturally stops, but the whole team is behind me, supporting me, encouraging me. 

Returning to work after several months of absence, even in a supportive and helpful environment, is not simple. I am no longer the same, I have lost confidence. With the support of my manager, little by little, I find my footing, I am still capable of being useful and effective. The team has helped me, I communicate with my manager in complete confidence. I am reassured. 

Despite all this trust and kindness and my profession at the time of the announcement, I needed to know what was going to happen to me. The desire to create Le Repair was evident when an employee affected by the disease asked me the same question. Sharing experiences is necessary to try to play down, reassure, and simply say to ourselves “we will make it!” 

Nicole Daurat​
Nurse Intencity Grenoble France​

In 2019, I was a plant manager. I came back from my 4th Mont Blanc ascent and was told that I have a very aggressive grade 4 breast cancer. My life was turned upside down! Nothing prepares you to cope with this type of news and with the numerous steps that come after. At that time, at the height of my career and my social success, illness rhymed with vulnerability, decline, failure… Vulnerability is not easy to share within one’s family, within society, within the company… Imagine! We know that the patient needs to reinvest in their work, which contributes to complete remission. Work is key in the healing path. For my part, when I returned to work, I needed to find a healthy, caring, and human environment. Once I recovered my self-confidence and my capacities, I needed to be treated like everyone else. I had a good return-to-work experience: thanks to my network, I chose my manager with whom I had already worked in the past. I also listened to my colleagues and ex-boss who advised me to try the therapeutic part-time. In 1 year, I was back at work at 100%. I was fully efficient and performed, taking on projects of €40M in Europe. 1 year later, I was searching for a new challenge, a promotion… But cancer was an obstacle because it’s scary. Some managers were afraid to offer me a “higher” job with responsibility.​

In 2020, I created an Employer Resource Network called Le Repair: the goal of this network is to create a collective of helper-peers who listen and help colleagues touched by a chronic disease, who push preventive actions, and share resources & tools. This collective is made up of the experience of patients, ex-patients, caregivers, and managers.​

Cécile Fouassier​
Regional Director Execution Services

Octobre Rose, Année Noire​ – This poem, written by an employee in French, reflects the experience of facing cancer. The author expresses the urgency and impact of their situation, using powerful imagery and emotions. The poem touches on the struggle, resilience, and the need for support and love during difficult times. 

Une cellule qui prend la tangente​ 

Et c’est tout le corps qui dérive​ 

Vite, vite, vite, il y a urgence​ 

 

Octobre Rose, Année Noire​ 

 

Je la sens à peine cette maligne​ 

Avant de perdre mes cheveux ​ 

Me dépouiller de ma force​ 

 

La traiter creuse, use, érode​ 

C’est une course de fond​ 

Où souffler n’est pas jouer​ 

 

Octobre Rose, Année Noire​ 

 

Traquer encore, puis encore et encore​ 

Faire équipe avec les soignants, confiance ​ 

Et recommencer à tout éradiquer​ 

Une partie de mon corps contre ma guérison​ 

Comment me faire une raison​ 

Je suis blessée, révoltée​ 

 

Je m’endors encore complète​ 

Panique au bout des lèvres​ 

Me réveille compressée, machée​ 

 

Octobre Rose, Année Grise​ 

Accueillir, toucher, apprivoiser le vide​ 

Mon corps douloureux​ 

Avant de l’irradier, l’immuniser pour le soigner​ 

 

Milles pensées dures et tendres​ 

Il y a encore beaucoup à faire​ 

Rééduquer, intégrer et surtout aimer 

Anne Riberolles​
Well-being and New Ways of Working Director, France​

Cancer is not uncommon, but it’s true that we don’t talk about it much. One touching story involves a long-time production worker, Mrs. Pirna, who was diagnosed with breast cancer during a challenging time for her family. Upon learning of her situation, we organized a successful fundraising campaign to support her and her family. The funds collected were used to purchase clothes for her grandchildren, as per her wishes, and to provide transport for her chemotherapy sessions. Mrs. Pirna is now preparing for surgery, and her prognosis looks positive. 

Vaclava Pirna
Production Worker, Czech Republic​

As an Impact company leading with inclusion and care, our long-lasting commitment to the safety and well-being of our employees is evident through various initiatives and policies. By taking the Working with Cancer pledge, we aim to reduce stigma and insecurity around serious illnesses, including cancer, and create a safe space for our employees to share their experiences if they choose to. 

As we recognize and honor Working with Cancer Day, we invite you to join us in creating a safe and supportive work environment for all. Together, we can ensure that everyone, everywhere, has equitable opportunities and feels uniquely valued in the workplace. 

Learn more about the Working with Cancer pledge and join us in supporting our mission to provide a caring and inclusive work environment for individuals facing serious illnesses.

Tags: , ,

Add a comment

All fields are required.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.