3 Things Companies Should Consider Since The Demise Of Roe v. Wade
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling that overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the United States. The weight of this decision was felt nationwide affecting employees’ ability to stay focused on their work. After two years of constant change due to the pandemic, racial injustice, and the Great Resignation, to name a few, companies are now grappling with how they’ll handle the impact this decision will have on their workers and the benefits they offer.
Abortion is undoubtedly a divisive topic where each side holds strong opinions. For this reason, companies need to tread lightly in how they approach the topic while making both sides feel heard and respected. The truth of the matter is that criminalizing abortions won’t prevent them from happening. As such, companies need to understand the potential implications this ruling has on their employees and how they can best support their health and safety.
Despite what many may believe, the demise of Roe v. Wade is an economic, diversity, and workplace issue. Thus, companies must consider the ramifications of this court ruling. Some things companies should think about are:
- Bereavement policies for miscarriages
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) messaging
- Revisiting the attendance and Parental Leave policies
- A potential increase in healthcare costs due to unplanned pregnancies
- Short-term disability benefits
- Promoting the company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
- Loosening in-office requirements for employees who choose to move out of a state with a trigger ban
- How they will approach background checks for candidates charged by their home state in regards to seeking and getting an abortion
- What other key rulings will be reconsidered (gay marriage, trans rights, etc.) and the impact on benefits and employees
Here are three things companies should consider since the demise of Roe v. Wade.
Be Proactive In Modifying Benefits
There is no one perfect solution to how a company can be supportive of its employees. Each individual’s situation looks a little different thus their needs should be taken into account. Regardless of the benefit a company offers in response to the Roe v. Wade ruling, it’s crucial that its employees feel supported during this time of uncertainty.
Companies such as Amazon, Yelp, JPMorgan, Dell Technologies, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Patagonia have responded quickly with their new benefit offerings. Here are a few ways these companies are helping their employees:
- Upgrading insurance plans to cover contraceptives
- Allowing Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to pay for reproductive health procedures and related costs
- Offering extra paid time off for recovery, pre and post-abortion counseling, and appointments
- Providing stipends or a medical allowance to cover out-of-state travel and accommodations
- Covering the cost of the procedure
- Offering legal assistance
- Extending reproductive care benefits to the employee’s spouse and dependents, or employees not on the company’s healthcare plan
- Bailing out employees who are arrested protesting the Roe v. Wade ruling
However a company chooses to support their employees, they need to ensure the process of obtaining these benefits is discrete and the employee’s privacy is protected. Additionally, companies must communicate how employees in need can access the new benefit. It’s important to remember that abortion is a sensitive and vulnerable topic for many, therefore, not every employee feels comfortable reaching out and asking for help. If a company decides to offer reproductive health benefits, they need to be explicit about what exactly their policy and benefits will and won’t cover, who is covered, how to take advantage of it, and the necessary details. Lastly, this benefit shouldn’t only be communicated once. It should be communicated consistently across various mediums such as Slack, email, company town halls, etc.
Create A Judgment Free Space
Companies of all sizes are stepping up and sending a strong message as they stand in solidarity with their employees during this unprecedented time. Nobody plans for or expects to get an abortion until it becomes an option. Data from Guttmacher Institute revealed, “about one in four (24%) women will have an abortion by age 45.” These women must then make deeply personal decisions about their pregnancies and their future. Companies that have reproductive policies and benefits in place demonstrate that they value their employee’s right to make the choice that’s best for them.
The reality is that not every company or employee may feel the same as those who oppose the recent Supreme Court decision. According to an NPR poll, 64% of respondents opposed Roe v. Wade being overturned, 33% supported it, and 3% were unsure. Despite an individual’s personal stance, it’s imperative the company does what’s in its employees’ best interest.
To create a judgment-free space, companies should make it clear that they will not tolerate disrespectful comments or behavior against employees that are grieving the recent court decision or vice versa. If the company chooses to have an open and honest conversation, they should establish guidelines that will ensure those engaging have a safe space to share their stories, opinions, and thoughts. This type of discussion will need to be heavily moderated as it can easily turn hostile.
Take A Stance
As many companies have learned with other social issues such as Black Lives Matter, and the hate crimes against the AAPI community, silence is not an option. The longer a company takes to acknowledge and address the recent ruling, the more employees are convinced their values are misaligned with their employers. Whether individuals agree or disagree, access to abortion is a diversity and equity issue as well as a workplace issue. Flynn Zaiger, CEO of Online Optimism, expressed, “while some organizations want to avoid politics at all costs, these discussions will be happening in private Slack channels, group talks, at lunch tables and water coolers, and even on Zoom meetings. Make sure you’re starting the conversation with your employees because whether you want it to or not, it’s happening.” He explained, “being proactive gives you a far greater opportunity to guide the conversation in a way that’s beneficial to everyone involved.”
In addition to other social issues, employees and job seekers want to know what companies are doing to fight and defend their rights to reproductive healthcare. More than ever, candidates are doing their research to make sure the company they join shares their stance on these social issues. Mila Garcia, cofounder of iPaydayLoans, believes “that access to abortion is now set to become the new sort of minimum for companies in recruitment because it challenges a woman’s ability to maintain full-time employment and financial stability.” Zaiger added, “I believe job seekers will be looking for abortion access benefits and policies as part of the company’s overall benefits package.” Companies should be prepared to adapt their policy as laws, rulings, and policies change.