Home > Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion > The Post-Roe V. Wade Workforce: What Dobbs Means for Your Employees

The Post-Roe V. Wade Workforce: What Dobbs Means for Your Employees

post-roe v. wade

The Post-Roe v. Wade Landscape

In June, the Supreme Court ruled on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In a 6-to-3 ruling, the Court overturned prior decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, effectively abolishing the constitutional right to abortion.  In the wake of this decision, many states have moved quickly to ban abortion. As of September 2022, 13 states have very restrictive abortion laws in place. Thirteen more have moderately restrictive abortion laws in place.

The states with laws that protect abortion are: Washington, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Maryland. If you live outside these states, you may not be legally able to access a safe abortion. The decision may also set a precedent for further state regulation of reproductive rights. 

Lack of access to abortion will have wide-ranging effects on many levels, most acutely for people who can get pregnant and are now at risk of being forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. From a public health standpoint, pregnancy-related mortality rates are also projected to climb. The business community is in a unique position to help ensure rights for its employees.  Many companies are providing travel expenses to employees who need to cross state lines to access an abortion. Should your company join them? 

Could lack of reproductive health access harm your employees and your company?

Two million women have left the workforce in the past two and a half years, in part due to increased caretaking responsibilities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Dobbs decision will exacerbate these trends as more women are forced out of the workforce to care for unplanned children. 

Additionally, more women will also take off more time for maternity leave. More men will take time off for paternity leave. In addition to time off from work, these policies will also increase turnover for women between the ages of 15 and 44. 

According to The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), abortion restrictions in states cost state economies $105 billion per year due to the confluence of these factors. 

With around half of the states keeping abortion legal, and the other half banning it, many women will be forced to cross state lines in order to access safe abortions.

“We have a really good idea of how women will respond to the resulting changes,” Economist Caitlin Myers told Aol.com. “Our best prediction based on ample evidence on the effects of travel distance, is that about three quarters of the women who want abortions will still find a way to get out of the states that ban.”

That means the remaining quarter of women will be prevented from accessing abortion due to travel costs.

Companies that support reproductive rights

Dozens of companies have enacted policies to cover travel expenses for employees who need abortions. Reddit said that it would give a stipend to employees who need to travel to other states to get an abortion. 

As of August 2022, other companies that promised travel reimbursement to employees in need of an abortion include Warner Brothers, Walt Disney, Meta, Bank of America, Intuit, Conde Nast, Lyft, Uber, Buzzfeed, Vox Media, Adobe and Google. Google now offers employees the opportunity to relocate to a new state where abortion is legal. 

“[The Dobbs decision] is a crushing blow to reproductive rights that have been protected for nearly half a century,” Roger Lynch, Condé Nast’s chief executive, told The New York Times.

“This ruling will have a disproportionate impact on access to care depending on where people live,” Jim Bankoff, Vox Media’s chief executive, wrote in a memo. “It puts families, communities and the economy at risk, threatening the gains that women have made in the workplace over the past 50 years.”

Amalgamated Bank was one of the first financial companies to offer to cover costs for out-of-state travel for an abortion back in June 2022. “This is a devastating and dangerous blow for millions of Americans, particularly underserved communities, people of color, rural families, LGBTQ individuals and immigrants,” the company said in a statement to CNBC. 

“Seventy percent of Americans agree with us on this,” said Amalgamated Bank CEO Priscilla Sims, referencing a January poll by CNN that found that 69 percent of Americans were in favor of Roe. “This is not an issue that is isolated to a particular party; this is an issue that is important to 70 percent of Americans.”

In addition to the populism of the policy issue, Sims also made it clear that this is a workplace equity issue. 

“Women make up half the workplace,” she said. For women who care about reproductive health issues, it is a major factor in choosing what company to work for and even what state to live in. 

“Women have a very special challenge and they have the right,” she continued, “It is a personal, reproductive issue that they have the right to make decisions around. And that’s important to them in the workplace. It’s important to us in retaining them. It’s important to us in hiring them. And it’s important to us because we want to have diversity for everyone in the workplace.”

Even before Roe was overturned, women in the United States faced unique health challenges. Women in the United States have the highest rate of maternal deaths among high-income countries, with Black women being three times as likely to die during pregnancy than white women. This is in addition to women in the United States facing higher instances of preventable death, chronic health conditions and mental health conditions. Intertwined with this issue is the high cost of medical care in the U.S.: people face financial hardship from medical bills, making the post-partum period even more stressful (even for those who have private health insurance).  

All these issues compound and make it extremely difficult for women to achieve a work-life balance, with many, many women opting to leave the workforce rather than deal with the lack of support. 

“We’re losing talented people in the workforce as a result of this,” said Sims. 

What your company can do

According to Planned Parenthood, companies should “Assess workforce health care coverage and benefits, including travel stipend, paid time off, child care, abortion funds, etc.”

reproductive health travel

They also recommend, making sure your health plan covers abortions, especially in states where Medicaid and public funds are banned from covering abortion. Comprehensive insurance should cover access to safe abortion. Make sure your benefits package includes transportation to a state with clinics, childcare and Paid Time Off for women travelling, lodging, etc. 

Amalgamated Bank CEO Priscilla Sims-Brown said, “We will provide transportation, we will provide childcare – because many of these women have children at home – We will provide hotel[s] not only for them but for a partner to support them through the process.”

There are several ways to provide travel and lodging benefits. One way is to add travel and lodging benefits to an employer’s existing group health plan. With this approach, the travel and lodging benefits will only be available to those who are enrolled in the employer’s plan. You may also provide travel and lodging benefits through a reimbursement plan. This is called an integrated health reimbursement arrangement, or HRA. The HRA will be subject to ERISA requirements, and it cannot reimburse travel expenses over the limits set forth in Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code. 

Other options are to provide travel and lodging benefits under employee assistance programs or as taxable reimbursements. 

Another thing companies can do is provide paid parental leave – this keeps more women in the workforce. A recent study showed that in states with paid parental leave, performance rose by one percent, employee turnover decreased, and productivity rose by five percent. Citi offers pre-tax dependent child care benefits. Cliff Bar now offers on-site childcare. 

A 2020 survey showed that only 10 percent of new mothers had designated breastfeeding breaks, while only 17 percent had support from supervisors and coworkers. 

UNICEF recommends redesigning the workplace in accordance with family-friendly policies that not only benefit the child but also promote gender equality and lead to higher productivity. These policies include: paid leave for all parents and guardians, including maternity, paternity and parental leave as well as leave to care for sick children; supporting breastfeeding; ensuring that all children have access to affordable, quality childcare and education; and providing child benefits along with suitable pay to help families provide for young children.  

Planned Parenthood urges businesses to implement employee donations and matching gift programs to abortion providers. If you are looking for other ways to help, Planned Parenthood also suggests providing in-kind/core business contributions like products, services or staff time, such as transportation to health centers.

This sentiment was echoed by Sims: “We have to support financially the expansion of reproductive health care clinics that are [going to] be in states that border the states where there are onerous laws and laws that are harmful to women,” she said in an interview with CNBC.

Studies tie women’s health to long-term productivity. By investing in reproductive health, your company can reap the benefits of a healthier, more diverse work force. 

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Tonie Leatherberry was at Deloitte for nearly three decades where she was the principal architect of The Board Leadership Forum and the NextGen CEO Academy, each of which has had a meaningful impact, ultimately placing more than 70 Black leaders into executive-level and board roles. As Chair Emeritus of the Executive Leadership Council, she created the Chairman’s Council of Academic Achievement to address achievement gaps for students of color in America’s educational systems, and as President of the Deloitte Foundation, the mission was to drive initiatives to develop future leaders through education. She is a passionate leader who has devoted much of her professional life to creating opportunities for women and people of color. Tonie is Lead director for Direct Digital Holdings, and a Board Director at Zoetis Inc. and American Family Insurance.

Cindie Jamison was elected Chair of the Darden Restaurants Board (NYSE: DRI) in September 2023, having served as a Director since October 2014 as part of a complete Board replacement slate through Starboard Value’s proxy fight. Since 2013, she has also served on the Office Depot Board (NASDAQ: ODP) where she Chairs the Audit Committee and is a member of the Compensation Committee. In May 2015, she joined the Big Lots, Inc (NYSE: BIG) Board, and became Chair in May 2022. In May 2023 Cindie stepped down from the Tractor Supply Company Board (NASDAQ:TSCO), a position she has held since 2002, where she was Chairman of the Board, after serving as Lead Director, and Chair of the Audit, Compensation & Corporate Governance Committees. Cindie joined the Board of Save the Children in February 2024.

David Chun, Founder and CEO, Equilar, Inc., has led Equilar since its inception to become one of the most trusted names in the corporate governance community. David has been recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential Players in Corporate Governance” by the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the Disruptor Award by 2020 Women on Boards and Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business. David speaks publicly on corporate governance and board diversity matters, including events hosted by The Conference Board, Deloitte, EY, HR Policy Association, KPMG, NACD, NASDAQ, NYSE, The Society for Corporate Governance and Stanford’s Directors’ College. Prior to founding Equilar, David was a Vice President in the Investment Banking Division of Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, a global investment bank that has since merged with Credit Suisse. Before DLJ, David was a management consultant with Bain & Company and also Kenan Systems, a telecom software developer acquired by Lucent Technologies. David serves on the boards of the Commonwealth Club of California, PGA Reach, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG). He is on Nasdaq’s Center for Board Excellence Advisory Board and Catalyst’s Women on Board Advisory Council. David is a member of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), Past Chair of the SF Bay Chapter, a founding member of the Council of Korean Americans (CKA) and a former board member of the Wharton Center for Entrepreneurship and the Asian Pacific Fund Community Foundation of San Francisco.

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Priscilla Sims Brown serves as President and CEO of Amalgamated Bank, a full-service bank, lender and investment manager with a century-long commitment to advancing positive social change. Amalgamated Financial Corp., the holding company for the Bank, is the first publicly traded (NASDAQ: AMAL) financial institution to be a public benefit corporation. Priscilla guides Amalgamated Bank in championing social responsibility through values-based banking, customer-centric services, and mission focused lending, serving individuals and organizations, including climate groups, foundations, labor unions, advocacy groups, political campaigns, and other socially responsible businesses, who care that their deposits are put to work for good. Priscilla is also dedicated to addressing environmental and social justice issues at Amalgamated Bank. More than 60% of the Bank’s lending and select balance sheet investments are high-impact through affordable housing, nonprofits, and climate solutions. Named one of the Most Powerful Women in Banking in 2023 by American Banker, Priscilla has been featured in The New York Times, TIME Magazine, PBS, and CNBC Changemakers, among others.

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Myra Biblowit is the President Emeritus of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the nation’s highest-rated breast cancer research organization with a mission focused exclusively on funding the world’s most promising research. Myra took the helm as BCRF President in 2001 and, after 22 years, retired in April 2023. During Myra’s tenure, BCRF funding enabled breakthroughs in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, metastasis, and survivorship. Myra was widely recognized for leading one of the most impactful, financially efficient, and transparent nonprofits in the United States. Prior, Myra was Vice Dean for External Affairs at NYU Medical Center where she headed the Development, Alumni Relations and Public Relations departments. Previously she led the capital campaign as Senior Vice President of the American Museum of Natural History. Earlier, Myra served as Executive Vice President of the Central Park Conservancy. Myra is a member of the Board of Directors of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, the Housewares Charity Foundation and the Historic House Trust of New York City. She is a member of the New York Women’s Forum, the Yellow for Pink National Council, Extraordinary Women on Boards and serves on the Advisory Board of Project Hope for Ovarian Cancer Research & Education.

Truett Tate is Chairman of a number of Boards, including Reference Point, TLC Lions, Thinkably and the recently retired Chairman of QBE, NA. Truett Tate is also Director of the DEVClever board. Truett has a long and esteemed global executive history including most recently as CEO of ANZ USA, Europe, Japan, Korea and the Middle East. Immediately prior, he was Group Executive (and Board member) at Lloyds Banking Group, responsible for Wholesale & International Banking (Including Global Wealth and International Retail) across the United Kingdom, the Americas and worldwide and prior spending 27 years at Citigroup where he held a variety of senior roles including corporate banking business across each of its regional geographies. Truett’s long board history includes Virgin Group, Ten Group, the BITC, BAB Inc along with many other charitable and academic organizations. A speaker, guest lecturer, philanthropist and professional coach/mentor, Truett has seemingly bottomless energy and passionate interest in a safer, more just, more humane and more sustainable world.

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Janice Reals Ellig

Chief Executive Officer

As the head of the Ellig Group, Janice is dedicated to increasing the placement of women and diverse candidates on corporate boards and in C-suites by 2025. Janice joined the legacy firm in 2000 and became Co-Chief Executive Officer in its transition to Chadick Ellig in 2007; she assumed sole ownership of the company as the Ellig Group in 2017 with a new focus on Reimagining Search. Prior to her career in executive search, Janice spent 20 years in corporate America at Pfizer, Citi and Ambac Financial Group, an IPO from Citibank, where she was responsible for Marketing, Human Resources, and Administration.

Heralded by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of “The World’s Most Influential Headhunters,” Janice is often consulted for her expertise and her commitment to gender parity, inclusion, and diversity. She frequently appears at speaking engagements and as a media guest, and she has penned multiple articles for outlets such as Directors & Boards, Directorship, Corporate Director, The Huffington Post, and Forbes.com. Janice also co-authored two books: Driving The Career Highway and What Every Successful Woman Knows, acknowledged by Bloomberg Businessweek as “the best of its genre.”

A tirelessly active member of the industry and champion of her causes, Janice is Founder of the Women’s Forum of New York’s Corporate Board Initiative and its signature event, Breakfast of Corporate Champions. Since 2011, Janice continues to spearhead this event to honor companies committed to board diversity and to encourage CEOs to sponsor board-ready women for the Women’s Forum database. (LINK: www.womensforumny.org).

Janice is personally committed to several NFP organizations: Board Director of the National YMCA and Past Chair of the YMCA Board of Greater New York; Trustee of the Actors Fund and Committee For Economic Development (CED); Incoming Chair, University of Iowa Foundation; Women’s Forum of New York Past President and Chair of the Corporate Board Initiative; member of the Steering Committee, US 30% Club and The Economic Club of New York.

In recognition for her many philanthropic activities, Janice received the University of Iowa Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 and the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) Eleanor Raynolds Award for Volunteerism in 2008. Named one of the “21 Leaders for the 21st Century” by Women’s eNews, she was also a recipient of the Channel 21 Award In Excellence for her contribution to “Excellence in the Economic Development for Women.”

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