Corporations can play a critical role in pushing back against state action that undermines fundamental rights.
In 2016, for example, the Georgia legislature passed a bill that would have allowed private businesses to refuse to serve LGBTQ people. Disney and Netflix threatened to boycott the state if it became law. Georgia's Republican Governor, Nathan Deal, vetoed the bill.
The same year, North Carolina enacted a law that prohibited trans people from using the bathroom that was consistent with their gender identity. The law also repealed and banned local statutes that protected LGBTQ people from discrimination. Corporations responded by pulling investments from the state, including a PayPal facility projected to generate billions in economic activity. North Carolina repealed the law a year later.
Today, the Supreme Court is poised to remove constitutional protections for abortions. At the same time, states have passed legislation that will ban all or nearly all abortions as soon as the Supreme Court issues its decision. As the New York Times notes, "abortion is a business issue" because "women make up half of the workforce."
So what does corporate America have to say? Mostly, nothing at all. Almost all corporations are staying silent, hoping to avoid controversy. The New York Times received no comment from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Oracle, JPMorgan Chase, Walmart, Disney, Meta, Airbnb, ThirdLove, Kroger, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
This report details the exceptions to that rule, cataloging the corporations that have spoken out or taken action in anticipation of abortion bans being imposed in numerous states.
Corporations that have spoken out
The most robust statement about the Supreme Court's anticipated decision overturning Roe v. Wade, was issued by Levi's on Wednesday: "Protecting Reproductive Rights – A Business Imperative." An excerpt:
Access to reproductive health care, including abortion, has been a critical factor to the workplace gains and contributions women have made over the past 50 years. Further restricting or criminalizing access will jeopardize that progress and disproportionately affect women of color, putting their well-being at risk and impeding diverse hiring pipelines. Women in some states would have fewer rights than women in others, and our country would be consigned to a more unjust and inequitable future. What’s more, companies would need different health policies for different locations – including coverage for time off and travel across state lines – to ensure employees can access reproductive health care.
We know this is a fraught conversation; it’s not something we enter into lightly. But women make up 58 percent of our global workforce, and in recent years, numerous employees have expressed to leadership their growing alarm over the rollback of all forms of reproductive care.
Levi's said that, consistent with its existing policies, "Levi Strauss & Co. employees are eligible for reimbursement for healthcare-related travel expenses for services not available in their home state, including those related to reproductive health care and abortion." Levi's is also extending this benefit to hourly employees that do not receive company healthcare.
"Given what is at stake, business leaders need to make their voices heard and act to protect the health and well-being of our employees. That means protecting reproductive rights," the statement concludes.
Virgin CEO Richard Branson posted a statement on the company's corporate website: "Their bodies, their choice." An excerpt:
Deeply concerned by reports of a leaked draft document suggesting the US Supreme Court would likely overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that established the right to an abortion across the United States…
Let me be clear where I stand: I think everyone should have the right to a safe abortion if they choose to have one. It’s a personal choice that no government should interfere with.
If so-called pro-life advocates are really concerned about abortions, there are far more effective way to keep numbers low: lift people out of poverty and improve their access to education and economic opportunity; inform young people about their reproductive rights and choices; make contraceptives widely available. And take a stand against misogyny and sexual violence wherever you can. Banning abortions is poor policy with fatal consequences.
The dating site OK Cupid tweeted that Roe v. Wade "being overturned is unacceptable."
OK Cupid links to a statement in support of reproductive rights that was signed by a few dozen, mostly smaller, companies. That effort, called "Don't Ban Equality," was launched in 2019.
Box, a software company, posted a statement saying it is “committed to creating a safe, equitable and inclusive workplace.” An excerpt:
In light of the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft decision to end the constitutional right to choose, and the recent changes in reproductive health laws in certain states, Box will continue to support paid time off and will cover travel and medical expenses for employees to obtain critical reproductive healthcare services.
The potential ruling opens the door to the infringement of basic human rights and goes against our core values at Box of creating a safe, equitable, and inclusive workplace.
Vacation rental company Airbnb issued a statement saying, “For Airbnb’s part, our healthcare coverage supports reproductive rights and we will work to make sure our employees have the resources they need to make choices about their reproductive rights.”
Airbnb concluded by linking to a statement published in 2021 on its website. An excerpt:
Yet, even with the economic and employment gains achieved by women over the past several decades, equality cannot be achieved without access to comprehensive reproductive care that empowers women to not only make their own health care choices, but also to fully thrive. Recognizing the importance of a woman’s right to make choices about their reproductive care, Airbnb’s health care provides women the coverage they need to be able to make such decisions.
Bumble, a dating app, tweeted that it “believe[s] strongly in women’s right to choose and exercise complete control over their bodies.” The company continued to say that “[t]he safety, privacy, and freedom of family planning are critical to equality for all.” An excerpt of Bumble’s full statement:
We are dismayed by the rumors of the Supreme Court decision that was leaked last night. At Bumble, we believe strongly in women’s right to choose and exercise complete control over their bodies. The safety, privacy, and freedom of family planning are critical to equality for all.
We believe in equitable access and the protection of women in every stage of their reproductive journey. And we will continue to fight for the rights and protections of women all over the world. The health and safety of our team is our utmost priority and that includes covering access to abortion care. We will continue to partner with organizations that work to provide reproductive access to all.
Corporations reimbursing employees for travel expenses
In addition to Levi's and Box, three other companies — Amazon, Citi, Tesla, and Yelp — announced they will pay for employees to travel to obtain an abortion if they are unable to obtain care locally. While the announcements were made prior to the leak of the Supreme Court decision, they were made in anticipation of a legal environment where local abortion access is difficult to obtain for many employees.
While these policies recognize the necessity of abortion access, they also underscore how restrictions on abortion disproportionately impact the least well-off. Someone with a job at a major corporation may continue to have access to abortion. Someone making sub-minimum wage as a waiter at a local restaurant will likely lose access.
Even for those who maintain access through travel subsidies, it still adds a tremendous burden to an already difficult process. Two of the companies providing this benefit, Amazon and Citi, have donated extensively to committees that support anti-abortion candidates at the state and federal level.
We will update this list as more corporations speak out or take action on this issue. If you have information that should be included please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weren’t Amazon and Citi on yesterday’s list of companies regularly giving political donations to the various GOP entities behind all this madness?? If you want to support women’s reproductive rights, the rights of immigrants, low-income people, interracial married couples, gay married couples, everyone who’s not a white Christian male, STOP GIVING $$$ to those politicians!! Damn...
Pretty grim that many corporations are staying mum. I wonder what they will say when they can’t find people to fill the jobs. What with the pathetic US immigration policies and if women are unable to work because they are having unwanted children, I guess there will be contraction.