Tuesday, December 8, 2020
"Hidden Value: The Business Case for Reproductive Health" makes explicit what was already implicit in equality arguments in Planned Parenthood v Casey: abortion is a cheap way to keep women fully engaged in the workforce and so doing their part to increase GDP and make shareholders wealthier.
The 2020 report by Rhia Ventures offers five reasons businesses should better support contraception and abortion for women (or rather, "anyone who can become pregnant"). Number three says it all: "Providing High-Impact Benefits with Low-Cost Investments." After all, "[c]overage of contraception and abortion requires minimal investment from companies."
Recognizing the contributions of women to the workplace and responding to societal demand, leading companies have invested significant resources to promote women’s advancement. Attention has focused on the gender pay gap, sexual harassment, and benefits, especially improvements to paid family leave, childcare, and fertility treatments that enable women and their partners to balance professional, personal, and family goals.
Despite these commitments and actions, one fundamental area remains largely overlooked: women’s access to contraception and abortion.
In light of the fact that relatively few businesses offer paid family leave or other supports for family life, it seems to me that abortion is still the privileged way we seek to enable women to "participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation." Our country's reliance on abortion for such participation has been especially devastating, in my view, on the poor.
Rhia Ventures concludes its report with the final reason companies ought to pay for abortion: "Preparing for Greater Scrutiny: Employees, customers, and investors increasingly expect the private sector to act on social issues—and reproductive health is no exception."
Employees are a significant source of support for reproductive health access. Employee giving platform Benevity cites reproductive health care provider Planned Parenthood as one of the top three beneficiaries of employee charitable giving for the past three years....
Pressure on the business community is coming from all sectors. San Francisco became the first major city to institute a procurement ban on companies headquartered in states with restrictive abortion policies. In the media, companies have received negative attention for campaign finance contributions to elected officials who sponsored restrictive abortion legislation, noting that the companies were acting contrary to their gender equity commitments. For example, a 2019 report by Equity Forward used publicly available data to detail financial support from 66 leading U.S. firms for legislators who have sponsored and passed abortion bans in states like Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Missouri.
Investors have also taken notice. Coverage for reproductive health is now included as a factor in both the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index (GEI) and the Equileap Global Gender Equality Index (EQUAL). In 2019, 39 institutional investors representing $236 billion in assets under management signed a letter to more than 30 major corporations to inquire about insurance policies and benefits related to reproductive health, as well as positions on public policy and
political spending that impact reproductive rights.
A widely-noted 2019 statement from the Business Roundtable, signed by 181 CEOs, proposed to redefine corporate purpose from delivering value exclusively to shareholders towards value for a broader set of stakeholders. This expanded vision will encourage higher expectations for companies across many areas—including reproductive health care. As Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan noted, “Our jobs as CEOs now include driving what we think is right. It’s not exactly political activism, but it is action on issues beyond business.”
So, take note Fortune 500, et al: don't just pay for your employees' contraception and abortion; publicize and lobby and "create a culture that encourages the use of reproductive health benefits," too. Isn't this the corporate responsibility we've all been waiting for!?