Yes, abortion is a workplace issue

Yes, abortion is a workplace issue

There’s good reason to be worried about the future of legal abortion in the US right now. The conservative-majority Supreme Court appears ready to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a move that would effectively overturn Roe v. Wade. The historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision prevents states from banning abortion before fetal viability, typically around 24 weeks.

Yet companies that otherwise tout progressive stances on American social issues have been largely silent on the issue. So women’s health advocates are trying to encourage business leaders to speak up based on the relatively new premise that reproductive rights are a workplace issue.

“We’re not asking companies to weigh in on ‘when does life begin,’ values, morality,” says Jen Stark, director of corporate strategy at Tara Health Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on improving the health and wellbeing of women and girls. “What we’re asking them to say is that access to reproductive health connects to their gender and racial equity commitments.”

For one thing, having access to abortions can allow women to “stay in the workforce, or stay in education …. or support the economic security of their family,” says Shaina Goodman, director for reproductive health and rights at the nonprofit advocacy group National Partnership for Women & Families.

Moreover, employees may not be willing to stay in or move to states that restrict abortion access, which is bad news for companies looking to hire and retain talent. Two-thirds of college-educated workers in the US say the Texas abortion ban, known as SB8, would discourage them from taking a job in the state, according to a recent poll of 1,804 adults.

This should give employers another clear way to speak out about how state abortion laws directly affect their companies. “Employers can talk about the negative effect that these types of laws are having on their ability to recruit and retain really talented high-caliber employees and bring business into state,” says Goodman. —Sarah Todd

Click here to see what business leaders can do to support reproductive rights.  

Readers: Should business leaders be more or less outspoken about reproductive rights? Write to us and let us know what you think.

Five things we learned this week

🏛 The lawyer who saved Roe v. Wade says US abortion rights will soon disappear. “We’ve been saying for five decades ‘save Roe, save Roe, save Roe,’” says Kathryn Kolbert. “That strategy is no longer feasible.”

🪑 Take a seat. The modern office chair—a major part of the $71 billion office furniture market—has emerged as the pinnacle of ergonomic comfort. Quartz journalists Kira Bindrim and Anne Quito discuss on this week’s Quartz Obsession podcast.

👩🏾‍💻  Mind the gap. Again. Girls Who Code CEO Tarika Barrett on what’s behind the tech sector’s gender gap.

💄 Find your shade. The makeup artist Bobbi Brown spoke with Quartz about how the pandemic is changing beauty standards, and why she prefers an entrepreneurial life to a corporate one.

🚕 Roll up your sleeve. New York City’s new vaccine mandate is the US private sector’s strictest yet.

Workshop: ‘How to work social impact into your career’

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Date: Thursday, Dec. 9,  11am-12pm EDT / 4-5pm GMT

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Today’s newsletter was written by Sarah Todd and edited by Francesca Donner.

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