Imminent high-profile rulings on abortion, gun rights and religious expression are likely to deepen cultural and political divides. Although these issues are rarely central to a company’s business, employees, customers and government interlocutors may pressure a company to respond.
Views are complicated, but polling consistently shows most in this country do not want Roe to be overturned and are uneasy with the government making individual healthcare decisions. The most engaged voters are divided.
Here’s what we’ve seen from companies in response to Texas SB8 and the leaked draft opinion in Dobbs:
- Companies have started updating or emphasizing benefits for their employees to ensure access to care. Since May 3, over 20 companies including Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks have announced or reiterated their health care policies would cover travel to other states for abortion access and other reproductive care. They join companies like Uber, Lyft and Apple who made similar commitments following the May 2021 enactment of Texas SB8.
- While most of corporate America has yet to acknowledge the issue publicly, some pushback is emerging. As of this week, over 60 companies like Lyft, Levi Strauss and Ben & Jerry’s signed on to a statement from “Don’t Ban Equality” – a coalition created in 2019 and supported by the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights – stating that reversing Roe v. Wade would be against their company values.
- Companies are experiencing growing scrutiny in the media over their willingness to take a position. Media outlets have reported on corporate America’s relative silence on abortion in contrast to their outspoken stances on issues such as racial justice, voting rights and marriage equality. Fast Company and Yahoo Finance have written about their efforts to contact corporate leaders to find out their positions on abortion and reported few have been willing to comment. Yahoo Finance particularly focused on companies with women CEOs, noting few were willing to speak up. The New York Times has suggested corporate America may be forced to make a statement due to pressure from employees, especially in a tight labor market.
- Companies are increasingly facing pressure from shareholders to protect access to abortion. Walmart, Lowe’s and TJX have all faced votes on proxy proposals aimed at ensuring the companies enact internal policies that give workers the ability to obtain abortions. While the votes all failed, a significant minority of TJX shareholders (30.2%) and Lowe’s shareholders (32%) voted in favor.