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Google workers demand change
In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Google has sought to communicate to its employees that the company supports reproductive rights.
Fiona Cicconi, Google's Chief People Officer, sent this message to employees after Roe was overturned:
Equity is extraordinarily important to us as a company, and we share concerns about the impact this ruling will have on people’s health, lives, and careers. We will keep working to make information on reproductive healthcare accessible across our products and continue our work to protect user privacy.
To support Googlers and their dependents, our US benefits plan and health insurance covers out-of-state medical procedures that are not available where an employee lives and works.
In addition to covering costs associated with abortion-related travel, Google also informed employees that if they do not wish to live in a state where abortion is banned, they can "apply for relocation without justification." The company also said it was "arranging support sessions for Googlers in the US."
But, as Popular Information has documented, Google has donated extensively to anti-abortion political committees. Since 2016, Google's PAC has donated $105,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), a group dedicated to putting anti-abortion Republicans in control of the United States Senate. The success of the NRSC over the last eight years made the appointment of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett possible.
Google has also donated $240,000 since 2016 to the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC). The RSLC is dedicated to placing anti-abortion Republicans in charge of state legislatures. These efforts have made it possible for states like Arizona, Florida, and Texas to pass abortion bans.
And since 2016, Google has donated $320,700 to the Republican Governors Association (RGA). The RGA helps ensure that when a state legislature passes an abortion ban, there is an anti-abortion governor ready to sign it into law.
In the 2022 cycle so far, Google's PAC has donated $283,500 to politicians that voted against the Women's Health Protection Act, a bill that would have codified the right to abortion nationally.
So there is a substantial disconnect between Google's communications to its employees and its political spending. Now, a group of Google employees is fighting back. In a petition sent to Google executives earlier this month, a group of 650 Google employees demanded changes. The petition demands that Google stop supporting "politicians and any political organization…responsible for appointing the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade" or who otherwise infringe on "human rights issues."
The petition also calls for Google to extend its abortion-related travel benefit to contractors, institute "immediate user data privacy controls for all health-related activity," and fix "misleading search results related to abortion services by removing results for fake abortion providers."
Thus far, Google executives have not responded.
Microsoft shareholders fight back
Microsoft has sought to portray itself as a champion of reproductive rights. "Microsoft will continue to do everything we can under the law to support our employees and their enrolled dependents in accessing critical health care," the company said in a statement after Roe was overturned.
Now, Microsoft is facing pressure from a group of shareholders to align its political spending with its stated values. Tulipshare, an "activist investing platform for retail traders" based in the UK, is requesting Microsoft "end donations and lobbying that might conflict with its stated support for employees accessing reproductive health care."
So far in the 2022 cycle, Microsoft has donated $283,500 to members of Congress who voted against the Women’s Health Protection Act. In March 2022, Microsoft donated $250,000 to the RGA. That money is now being used to run ads supporting Kari Lake, the Republican nominee for Governor of Arizona. Lake says she wants to close all abortion clinics in the state and would consider supporting legislation banning FDA-approved abortion pills. “I believe that abortion is the ultimate sin,” Lake said in a May radio interview.
“You see a lot of companies hopping on this woke marketing opportunity to speak out against something, whether it be to attract more recruits, to just kind of insert themselves into the media, when actually their political activities say otherwise,” Tulipshare's chief marketing officer, Jenna Armitage, said.
Tulipshare "plans to engage with Microsoft’s investor relations department." If Microsoft does not address Tulipshare's concerns, Tulipshare plans to introduce a shareholder resolution requiring the company to be transparent about its political spending and explain "how it aligns with [Microsoft's] corporate values."
Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment from Bloomberg.