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The Top Priorities of a CEO: A Message from CEOs to CEOs

May 30, 2013

By Ron Nelson, chief executive officer, Avis Budget Group, Inc. and John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer, American Cancer Society, Inc.

Mr. Nelson and Dr. Seffrin are serving as the 2013 CEOs Against Cancer National Meeting Co-chairs.

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As CEOs, we think not only about the bottom line, needs of stakeholders, and the marketplace, but also about the employees that are at the heart and soul of our companies. We think about how to retain them, strategies to attract more of the best and brightest, and overall productivity and morale. But, sometimes we overlook a vital aspect of our employees: their health.

Americans spend one-third of their lives at work. Are we fostering a culture of health while they’re on the job? The healthier and the happier our employees are, the better the work and the better their lives – that sounds like a win-win to us. We know that health-related productivity losses cost US employers $225.8 billion annually, and we also know that more than one-third of all cancers are related to modifiable lifestyle factors that include lack of physical activity, unhealthy diets, and tobacco use.

Some of the biggest successes and most effective weapons in the war on cancer – early detection and prevention – are not being used as effectively as they could be. We can help our employees make healthier lifestyle choices by offering prevention programs, such as tobacco cessation or enhancing access for physical activity, as well as making healthy food choices available and affordable. These programs help increase overall direct and indirect cost savings.

The American Cancer Society CEOs Against Cancer program allows CEOs to make our employees’ health a priority and lead the fight against cancer, and come together to leverage our assets to do more in the workforce. If we intervene, and work together, we can change the world as we know it and save more lives from cancer. It is a good business decision, as well as the right moral choice. We invite you to join us – we have no doubt you will realize the return on investment that positively impacts all other priorities – not only for your company, but for your community as well.

You can establish the tone at the top, set the agenda, and change what is into what ought to be. We invite you to join us in working toward this lifesaving change at the upcoming CEOs Against Cancer National Meeting in Denver, Colorado on June 11-12, 2013. You’ll learn how you and your company can join forces with the American Cancer Society and companies across the country in an extraordinary effort to finish the fight against cancer. Please join us, and help make this cancer’s last century.

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