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Tech companies post-Roe will have a decision: Stay or leave these states?

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Today: How an overturned Roe v. Wade will change the relationship between tech companies and their employees, why Amazon’s new abortion travel benefit is more important than you think, and the latest stats on job seeker confidence.

— Michelle Ma, reporter (email | twitter)

The tech industry responds

This week, it’s been challenging to think about anything besides the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade: what it means for the future, for you, for your loved ones and for the communities where you live and work. For managers and company leaders, it also means thinking about how this might change their responsibilities towards employees who would be affected by such a ruling.

Ahead of Monday night’s news, the tech industry had already started preparing for the erosion of abortion rights, efforts which I expect will start to ramp up.

  • Amazon is the latest tech company to reimburse U.S. employees for abortion-related travel costs, but the policy doesn’t cover its 115,000 delivery drivers. And those are among the people who would be most affected by such a ruling.
  • Other companies that have announced similar benefits to help employees pay for travel to access abortions include Apple, Yelp, Match Group, Citigroup and Bumble.
  • Uber and Lyft also said they will pay the legal fees for drivers who give rides to abortion clinics in Texas. They’re also extending that benefit to drivers in Oklahoma, which just signed into law its own Texas-style abortion ban Tuesday.
  • Yelp and Bumble have condemned the draft opinion and reiterated their belief in a right to choose, according to reporting from my colleague Lizzy Lawrence.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, companies with presences in states where abortion will be illegal will have a decision to make: Stay or leave? Thirteen states have “trigger laws” that would ban abortion immediately if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned.

  • Those states include Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Utah. Some of the biggest tech companies with corporate presences in these states include Paycom, Dell, HPE, Salesforce and Ancestry.
  • In September, Salesforce had announced that it would help employees leave Texas after its anti-abortion law was passed.
  • Since the opinion leaked, more companies have announced broader actions. Figma’s CEO said the company would “provide relocation assistance” to employees who feel targeted or unsafe due to changes in state laws.
  • A corporate social responsibility expert told Protocol: “There are very few companies that can just pack up and leave within a year … I think the threat is potentially all that may be needed for states to reconsider.”

That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of these companies are also complicit in moving anti-abortion legislation forward.

  • Amazon has donated $974,718 to anti-abortion political committees, according to Popular Information. Since 2016, Google has donated $525,702 to the same committees.
  • Also, as my colleague Ben Brody points out, “Almost any decision they take could put them in the crosshairs of state governments — some of which are increasingly willing to punish big companies for their social stances — or will end up upsetting and harming their users and workers. And they’ll have to make those decisions soon.

It may seem cognitively dissonant for companies to be stepping up in this way to help their employees access abortions. But many would argue that reproductive rights are critical to workplace equity as abortion access is inherently tied to women’s roles in economies and labor markets around the world. Ending that would erase decades of economic gains for half of the workforce.

And in a country like the U.S. with no federally mandated paid maternity leave, high health care costs, no universal subsidized child care and limited caregiver support, the burden carried by working parents is high, and so is the corresponding pressure for companies that care about retaining those workers. It’s a high bar for everyone, and it’s a reflection of where our federal government has failed us.

Amazon to employees: Here’s $4,000 for abortion travel

Amazon announced mere hours before the Supreme Court draft decision leaked that it would be granting employees an unusual new benefit: $4,000 to travel for out-of-state health care, including abortions. This is a big deal, because Amazon is the nation’s second-largest private employer, surpassed only by Walmart. My colleague Anna Kramer elaborated on the details in her latest story. She points out that over 1 million people work for Amazon in the U.S., and the majority of those work in blue-collar, lower-wage positions in its fulfillment centers and logistics networks. Meanwhile, abortion bans primarily affect health care for these same people, who are less likely to have the funds to travel to places where abortion remains legal.

Read the full story.


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Today's tips & tools

It’s been a stressful couple of days! Maybe you’re looking for some calmness. Michelle helpfully sent the Workplace team a seven-minute guided meditation from Naomi Osaka. Relax, and enjoy.

— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email| twitter)

Job seekers are still confident

ZipRecruiter just released its first Job Seeker Confidence Index report, which measures how “optimistic or pessimistic” job seekers are about their chances when it comes to landing their dream job. According to the report, increased confidence points to future growth in wages and labor force participation, while lower confidence signifies a more dampened outlook.

  • 44% of those looking to find a new role in the next six months already have at least one offer.
  • 50% of employed job seekers expect their employer to make a counteroffer if they resign.
  • Despite their optimism, there was a slight decline in confidence among job seekers that they will find a better-paying job and a job they like.


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Around the internet

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Happy AAPI month: Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women lose over $1 million in their lifetimes due to the wage gap.

Here’s how to respond when your efforts at inclusion fail.

Remember California’s four-day workweek bill? It’s been shelved.

New survey: Four in 10 employers have some type of COVID-19 vax mandate.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to workplace@protocol.com. Have a great day, see you Sunday.

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