When Publicis Groupe Chairman-CEO Arthur Sadoun revealed he had cancer in April 2022, he received an abundance of messages wishing him well or offering support. But he also received an alarming number of testimonials from people in the industry who had been touched by cancer and feared not just for their or their loved ones’ lives, but for their jobs.
One person spoke of taking vacation days to get surgery for breast cancer. Another told of having prostate cancer and doing radiation treatments in the mornings to keep it from co-workers. And another avoided telling colleagues about their child’s cancer diagnosis so as to not appear weak to company superiors.
“We realized that what we were fighting here was not a reality, but a perception; the perception that when you get sick, you move from being strong to being weak,” Sadoun said. “It split the world into the people that are in good health and the ones that are not. And when you are not, you easily lose confidence, sometimes so much confidence that you are afraid to be fired.”
Sadoun had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his neck and underwent preventative radiation and chemotherapy, but worked through his treatment and told the world about his diagnosis. Realizing that not everyone feels empowered to do the same, Sadoun decided to take action.
The result is Working With Cancer, a global cross-industry coalition to end the stigma of cancer in the workplace.