Gina Conway owns three salons with spas across London, employing around 100 people. While her business is all about helping customers look and feel great, she also takes her employees’ health and wellbeing very seriously. Conway is also a partner in AXA PPP healthcare’s SME Work and Wellbeing programme, an initiative that shares good practice to build healthier and happier workplaces.
Subsequently, when one of her hairdressers was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, it was important for the organisation to provide him with the support he needed. “He’s an amazing guy and everyone was really shocked when he got the diagnosis,” says Conway. “He wanted to carry on working, so we made sure he was able to do this while getting the necessary treatment.”
Initially, this involved flexible working to allow for time off for appointments but, when he started chemotherapy, it was necessary to take six months off to completely focus on getting well again. During this time, he received statutory sick pay, plus a supplement from the organisation. This was also topped up through a fundraiser organised by other members of staff. “Employees contributed hours, paying these wages into his pay,” explains Conway. “It was so powerful; everyone wanted to support him in any way they could.”
Once he completed the course of chemotherapy and started to feel stronger, he returned to the salon, initially working two six-hour days a week, but gradually building up his hours.
Six years on, and having been given the all-clear, he has settled for working a three-day week. “Cancer made him think about his priorities and, as he has two children, he wanted to spend time with them while still pursuing his career,” adds Conway. “He’s now the artistic director of our Notting Hill salon. Supporting him through his cancer and keeping him as part of our team is so important.”