Chairman And CEO Arthur Sadoun Today Launched A Cross-Industry Coalition In Davos To Help Cancer Patients And Caregivers Feel Supported At Work.
In March 2022, Arthur Sadoun was diagnosed with HPV-related cancer. “As soon as I learned I had to go through surgery, radiation and chemo, I started thinking that it was important to make it public,” says Sadoun. As chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, the publicly-traded ad and marketing giant based in Paris, Sadoun also felt a fiduciary duty to disclose the news to his clients, investors and employees. “Especially, in this post-pandemic world, transparency is everything.”
Talking about his cancer also meant exposing his family and his own vulnerabilities as a leader, which made Sadoun uncomfortable. The reaction, he says, was overwhelming — with people thanking him for talking about something that they had been scared to raise. “No one had really tried to erase the stigma of cancer in the workplace.”
Sadoun decided that he would spearhead an initiative to do just that. Through the Publicis Foundation, he launched a cross-industry coalition on Jan. 17 at the World Economic Forum in Davos called “Working with Cancer.” The goal: to persuade companies to commit to creating a more open and supportive environment for people with cancer—and those who care for them.
So far, the signatories include Abbvie, Adobe, AXA, Bank of America, BNP Paribas, BT, Carrefour, Citi, Disney, EE, Google, Haleon, L’Oréal, Lloyd’s, LVMH, Marriott, McDonald’s, Meta, Mondelez, Microsoft, MSD, Nestlé, Orange, Omnicom, Pepsico, Reckitt, Renault Group, Sanofi, Toyota, Unilever, Verizon, and Walmart.
Publicis, for its part, has pledged to secure the job and salary of employees with cancer for at least a year and provide personalized support to transition back to work, as well as a community of volunteers to help through through the process. Caregivers will receive similar support. The campaign will also include marketing initiatives to bring cancer into the open.
While insurance companies have long offered varying levels of care, there’s rarely an easy way to raise it at work. Sadoun’s story is a hopeful one as his cancer was caught in time to be curable. When my mother and later my husband were dying of cancer, I rarely raised it because the prognosis was dire. As with mental health, reducing taboos might help.
To hear Sadoun’s perspective on the impact that his cancer had on his leadership and life, click on the video above.