As the pandemic has shown so clearly, public health issues are workplace issues. Business leaders are responsible for protecting the health and well-being of our employees, and that includes protecting reproductive rights and abortion access.
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.
Our position on this is in keeping with our efforts to support employees and family members at all stages of their lives. That includes advocacy for national paid family and medical leave, protections for pregnant workers, and gender and racial equity more broadly. Our position is also aligned with majority public opinion. In recent polling, 60 percent of Americans stated that the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade and three-quarters said abortion decisions should be left to women and their doctor.
Under our current benefits plan, 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. There is also a process in place through which employees who are not in our benefits plan, including part-time hourly workers, can seek reimbursement for travel costs incurred under the same circumstances.
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.