Changing the conversation about work and cancer

New research reveals 71% of workers with cancer in the UK fear telling their colleagues about their diagnosis

London – 31 January 2023 – Working with Cancer, the cross-industry coalition formed by Publicis Groupe to erase the stigma and insecurity of cancer at work, is launching a global ‘wake-up call’ urging everyone to play their part in supporting colleagues with cancer ahead of World Cancer Day, 4th February.

New research, run by Publicis Groupe UK polling 1,000 UK workers diagnosed with cancer, reveals that 71% have been fearful of telling the people they work with about their diagnosis.

The results show that among those who fear telling colleagues about their diagnosis, nearly half (49%) said this was because they were concerned about the financial impact should they need to take sick leave or stop working. Among all UK workers with cancer, 46% revealed they have continued working since their diagnosis due to financial pressures, despite poor health.

After being diagnosed and treated for cancer last year, Arthur Sadoun CEO of Publicis Groupe launched Working with Cancer at the World Economic Forum in Davos on 17th January.

With the support of charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support and social enterprise Working With Cancer®, the program is now setting its sights on the UK, through a wake-up call in time for World Cancer Day. It is anchored in the stark reality that half of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime, so all of us have a responsibility to support cancer patients at work.

Central to this call is a campaign film, ‘Monday’ directed by Elena Petitti Di Roreto and Martin de Thurah, which depicts the often harrowing journey of people living with cancer and the vital importance of workplace support. Many of the crew behind ‘Monday’ are cancer survivors and caregivers themselves, bringing personal and authentic resonance to a film that highlights a universal issue.

Further results from the new research also revealed that almost half (48%) of UK workers who fear telling their colleagues about their diagnosis said they were worried about losing their job as a result. However, 87% of respondents who had shared their diagnosis with colleagues said their employer was accommodating with the support they needed. For example, 51% of those who said their employer was supportive said they were offered unlimited sick leave or time off for treatment.

The Working with Cancer campaign aims to highlight that support is often there when you ask for it. The campaign sets out to remove taboos surrounding cancer in the workplace and provide support for employees who are navigating their way through their diagnosis.

 Because driving social change in the workplace can often take years, Publicis is harnessing the power of creativity and mass media to accelerate momentum and adoption. A fully integrated campaign supported by $100m in media generously donated by partners like Disney/ABC, NBCU, Warner Bros Discovery, Paramount, Fox, Roku, Snap, iHeart, Tiktok, YouTube, NCM, Screenvision, Clear Channel, Lamar, Zeta and Meta, who are contributing 1bn impressions, will ensure this wake-up call is heard by all. Publicis Groupe will also contribute by becoming the first holding company to purchase and invest in a Super Bowl spot.

 Today, Working with Cancer is an alliance of major international companies united by a pledge to create an open, supportive and recovery-forward culture for people living with cancer. Founding partners include Abbvie, Adobe, Bank of America, BNP Paribas, BT, Citi, Google, Haleon, Labcorp, L’Oréal, Lloyd’s, LVMH, Marriott, McDonald’s, Meta, Mondelez, Microsoft, MSD, Nestlé, Omnicom, Pepsico, Renault Group, Sanofi, Toyota, Unilever, Verizon, and Walmart, the world’s largest private employer.

Arthur Sadoun, Chairman & CEO Publicis Groupe:

Thanks to the coalition of our partners and the support of the World Economic Forum, Working with Cancer is already positively impacting the lives of 20 million people. Of course, we will continue to rally more companies to the movement. But just as vital is the role all of us can play by standing with our colleagues with cancer. That is why we are launching a call not only for awareness, but for action from everyone, to create a real cultural shift in the workplace.

Claire Rowney, Executive Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Innovation at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
“Cancer can impact a person’s life in a variety of ways, and we know that too many people living with cancer face a huge amount of stress, worrying about how their diagnosis could impact their work. The Working with Cancer pledge is a major step forward, calling for commitment and raising vital awareness among employers of the role they have to play in ensuring the millions of people with cancer across the world get the essential support they need at work, at a time when they need it most.”

Barbara Wilson, Founder & Director at Working with Cancer, said:
“Despite significant improvements in cancer survival, people living with cancer face enormous barriers in returning to work as do working carers. Not only does this have a huge impact on people’s financial security and career prospects, it costs the global economy billions of dollars/Euros/pounds each year in lost productivity. The Pledge campaign provides a unique opportunity for business leaders to change their company’s policies, practises and perceptions about supporting those affected by cancer in the workplace. It will benefit their employees, their company and the wider community”.

Readers can contact Working With Cancer for information and support at

Readers can reach out to Macmillan for support by contacting Macmillan’s Support Line on 0808 808 0000, seven days a week, 8am-8pm, or on

Click here to see the pledge.

Notes to editors

About Publicis Groupe’s Pledge:

  1. We will secure the job, salary level and benefits of any Publicis Groupe employees diagnosed with cancer* for at least 1 year, so they can stay focused on their health treatment as the priority.
  2. All Publicis Groupe employees with cancer* will be individually accompanied when they return to work through personalized career support.
  3. All affected Publicis Groupe employees will have access to an internal community of volunteers (peers) who are properly trained to provide support, through the Marcel platform.
  4. All Publicis Groupe employees in a primary caregiver role for a patient in their immediate family will receive custom personal and professional support to navigate the flexibility and time arrangements needed maintain their energy at work and as a caregiver.

 *Cancer: Publicis Groupe’s pledge applies to employees suffering from all forms of cancer and other chronic disease and serious illness requiring specific medical care as defined by the country in which they live.

Survey methodology

This online survey of 2,459 people in work who have been diagnosed with cancer or another long-term health condition (1178 people with cancer, 1281 with another long term health condition) was commissioned Publicis Groupe UK and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected between 22nd December 2022 to 16th January 2023. All participants are double-opted in to take part in research and are paid an amount depending on the length and complexity of the survey. This survey was overseen and edited by the OnePoll research team. OnePoll are company partners of the MRS and has corporate membership to ESOMAR.

About Publicis Groupe – The Power of One

Publicis Groupe [Euronext Paris FR0000130577, CAC 40] is a global leader in communication. The Groupe is positioned at every step of the value chain, from consulting to execution, combining marketing transformation and digital business transformation. Publicis Groupe is a privileged partner in its clients’ transformation to enhance personalization at scale. The Groupe relies on ten expertise concentrated within four main activities: Communication, Media, Data and Technology. Through a unified and fluid organization, its clients have a facilitated access to all its expertise in every market. Present in over 100 countries, Publicis Groupe employs around 96,000 professionals.

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