On Roe v. Wade, big companies already have a precedent for action
After protestors for abortion rights marched through downtown, they were outside the Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Federal Courthouse, Tucson, Arizona U.S.A, on May 3, 2022. This was after Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito leaked a draft majority opinion. He had been preparing to have a majority vote against the controversial Roe v. Wade decision. Picture taken May 3, 2022.
Stringer | Reuters
The Supreme Court Draft Decision Leak is increasing the probability of Roe V. Wade’s death. Companies now have to implement more supportive policies to their employees regarding women’s reproductive rights.
Many companies, including Apple, Citigroup, Salesforce, and YelpIn the midst of several state-led attempts to ban or restrict abortion, many women have made or announced changes in their benefit policies. This week: Amazon announced new benefits, while a few companies, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, have said they are reviewing existing policiesIn the wake of the news that the country’s highest court could be closing, on the verge of overturning the landmark case over abortion rights.
Some corporate activists urge companies to act quickly to implement more favorable policies regarding reproductive rights ahead of the Supreme Court’s action. Andrew Behar (CEO of As You Sow), a non-profit shareholder association, said, “Right now it’s just a ripple. But it will grow into a wave. And once Roe is overturned it will become an ocean.”
The corporate world is being monitored for what it is saying — or not saying publicly. There are many. corporate giants who have been mum on the issueSome people may fear that they will be stepping in a political minefield or that their constituents might get angry. Experts in corporate social responsibility agree that companies must address reproductive rights immediately, despite any concerns.
“Public companies, whether they like it or not, are in the spotlight for this debate,” said Carla Bevins, assistant teaching professor of business communication at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. She said, “They will continue setting the example for others businesses.”
Some businesses have publicly called on other companies to stand up. Given the stakes, leaders in business must speak up and take action to ensure that our employees’ health and wellbeing. This means protecting reproductive rights. Levi Strauss & Co.In a statement dated May 4,
It is not easy to make a statement on an issue as polarized as abortion. Companies must deal with multiple stakeholders with different opinions. Martin Whittaker is the CEO of Just Capital. Just Capital uses research to measure and enhance corporate performance regarding environmental, social, and governance issues. It’s best to focus on the issue as a benefit for health, he stated.
This is what you get. CitigroupIt did. For instance, its CEO explained how the company viewed a question about paying employee travel costs related to abortions at an annual shareholders meeting. This is an issue that many people are passionate about. Jane Fraser CEO stated that the benefit was not intended as a comment about sensitive issues.
Since long time, companies have insure abortion. Changing their policies is consistent with this, according to Shelley Alpern (director of corporate engagement, Rhia Ventures), which invests in women-empowering reproductive health-care solutions. She said that companies should act now in order to prevent the worst.
CNBC received a statement from Yelp requesting that Congress codify women’s rights to control their bodies. Yelp said that businesses should also “step up for their employees and ensure equal access to all health services, no matter the place they live.”
Company policies can also pay for travel when employees need to get health care. Amazon is one example of a company that offers coverage for travelers with many medical conditions.
For many years, Citi has offered a travel benefit that typically enables employees to access specific health-care services, such as transplant, bariatric or orthopedic procedures, outside their local area.
Fraser stated to shareholders that they followed their past practices. Fraser stated that the company has provided reproductive healthcare benefits since more than twenty years. We also make sure that our employees are covered regardless of their location in the U.S. Since many years, we have been reimbursed for travel. She said that we respect all opinions on the subject.
This method has been successfully used to provide employee benefits. Walmart for years, which has partneredThere are “centres of excellence” in the country that provide healthcare services and reimbursements for travel and lodging to patients with conditions such as heart disease, bariatric surgery and spine health.
You would be foolish to assume that any company response to the Supreme Court’s decision will avoid political wrangling, not even one that is focused on its employees. Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio introduced legislation to amend the tax code in order to punish companies who offer travel and health coverage.
According to experts in corporate responsibility, companies who withhold information from customers, employees and investors, could make a mistake. The prolonged silence of a company could backfire, causing a loss in credibility among employees, shareholders and consumers.
Whittaker referred to recent cautionary tale of Disney. Employees and the general public were very critical of the initial reluctance by this media mogul to voice out against Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law.
The leadership of the company stated it believed it better to keep the secret, but then promised support for efforts to overturn the controversial law.
“What we observed with Disney was that it looks almost like betrayal if you get too involved in the process,” stated Cait Lamberton (the Alberto I. Duran Presidential-Distinguished Professor of Marketing at The Wharton School).
If companies don’t respond quickly, they could have difficulty attracting or retaining the best talent. Behar explained that employees tend to pick the company with the most favorable policy if they are in the top Harvard classes.
In addition, companies who are slow to respond could suffer ripple effects as more benefits become standard. Lamberton explained that an employee working for a company with no benefits will end up spending $2.3million after these experiences. It will create a strong story, which will draw attention to their decisions.
A company that routinely advocates ideals related to health such as wellness and wider aims for equality and independence in their public persona might find it necessary to adopt a position.
You can’t be a company that promotes certain outcomes for society, and then not speak out on an issue such as this. Lamberton stated that it doesn’t make any sense.
—Special to CNBC.com by Cheryl Winokur Munk