Roe v Wade in the Workplace: Candidness in Some Companies; Silence in Others (i4cp login required)


Of the 366 HR and other talent professionals who participated in i4cp’s Employer Response to the Implications of Roe v Wade survey last week, 52% reported the possible reversal of the right to abortion access by the U.S. Supreme Court has not caused a noticeable impact in their organizations. A little over one-quarter (27%) of those surveyed said that yes, there has been a noticeable impact; 22% said that they didn’t know either way.

Among those who reported that there has been a noticeable effect in their companies, most cited positives:

(53%) It is creating an opportunity for open discussion about this topic
(27%) It is enabling people to share their different points of view with one another            
(27%) It is prompting us to be more open in general about discussing issues that may have been taboo before

But a number of those surveyed described a cloudier perception—more said that the issue is creating tension than those who said it’s enabling the sharing of differing perspectives with each other:

(31%) It is creating divisiveness among employees
(14%) It is hindering our productivity
*this was a “select-all-that-apply” question

The narrative comments shared by survey participants provide a deeper look into their organizations, revealing clear themes of concern about well-being, lack of acknowledgment from leadership, and even negative impact to the delivery of customer service.

Those who focused on their organizations/leaders not acknowledging an expected Roe v Wade ruling said that the silence has been noticed and felt by their workforces:

  • It is concerning employees and impacting mindshare and mental wellness.
  • It is creating an underlying tension that we haven’t dealt with yet.
  • It is creating a great amount of anxiety in a large swath of employees, and shining a light on the fact that our employees are not homogenous.
  • We have varied opinions across our employee base that result in varied points of view about if we should be supporting politicians that are on either side of this issue.

Other comments described actions being taken or considered in their organizations in response to the anticipated Supreme Court ruling, primarily involving benefits and communications:     

  • It is bringing forward concerns about health coverage; within HR, we are exploring the implications of our benefits offerings.
  • We’re looking into new benefits coverage for out-of-state travel for women’s healthcare and fielding employee questions on why we haven’t made a public statement (we have internally, but not externally).
  • It is causing us to put better frameworks together for the company’s position (or silence) on an issue.
  • It is prompting us to invest in benefits and charitable giving campaigns that support employees’ right to choose their path to parenthood, from pregnancy prevention/termination to fertility and adoption.
  • It is giving us the opportunity for an ongoing discussion about choice, which is a key part of our employer brand.

The flip side of the many complex challenges for employers is the opportunity to gather employee sentiment, facilitate candid conversations, assess and adjust benefits and messaging, and perhaps drive change that is meaningful and responsive to employees’ concerns.

The caveat of course is that a ruling has yet to be handed down as of the publication date of this article—things may change (or not) in response to what happens in the coming weeks. We will continue to watch the issue as things unfold.

In the meantime, be sure to register for i4cp’s Roe v Wade in the Workplace flash call Tuesday, 6/7 from noon to 1 PM EST. Register here.

Lorrie Lykins is i4cp’s Vice President of Research

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