With a leaked draft opinion now showing that the Supreme Court is ready to strike down Roe v. Wade, businesses are feeling pressure to speak out against a decision that could allow individual states to strip residents of abortion access.
While the decision was in draft form from several months ago, Chief Justice John Roberts’ confirmation that the draft ruling authored by Justice Samuel Alito was genuine has set off a bombshell and prompted a wave of pro-choice protests to take place across the country.
Levi-Strauss Is One Of The First Companies To Take A Stance
As the news spread and outrage from women’s rights activists grew, several companies began issuing statements decrying the draft decision.
Levi-Strauss (LEVI) – Get Levi Strauss & Co. Class A Report, the San Francisco-based company behind the iconic American jeans, was one of the first to come out with a statement.
The company committed to covering the expenses of employees who need to travel out-of-state to get an abortion and said that companies need to step up “to protect the health and well-being of our employees.”
The coverage also includes Levi’s part-time and contract employees.
“Protecting access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion, is a critical business issue,” Levi-Strauss said in a statement provided to media outlets.
“Efforts to further restrict or criminalize that access would have far-reaching consequences for the American workforce, the US economy and our nation’s pursuit of gender and racial equity.”
Amazon (AMZN) – Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report, Yelp (YELP) – Get Yelp Inc Report and Citigroup (C) – Get Citigroup Inc. Report were some of the other companies that committed to covering travel expenses related to elective abortions for their employees.
One of the more progressive voices in fashion, Levi-Strauss frequently issues statements during times of social unrest or protests over issues like racism and reproductive rights.
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“I owe it to the Levi Strauss & Co. community to say as plainly as possible that our company condemns all forms of racism — from the violent to the casual to the political,” CEO Chip Bergh said in May 2020.
What Could Such A Ruling Change? Answer: Everything
Along with Alito, Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett are the ones who are poised to overrule what Alito called a ruling that was “egregiously wrong from the start.”
If it comes into effect, individual states would have the right to drastically restrict or end access to abortion.
Analysts from the Guttmacher Institute calculated that 26 states from Arizona to Michigan are either “certain or likely” to follow through.
With a 2017 study finding that 1 in 4 American women will get an abortion at some point in their lives, the change could have a monumental effect on the lives of women who live in states controlled by Republicans.
Companies Feel Pressure To Speak Out
From a business perspective, companies often face pressure to issue statements on issues that large portions of their customer base view as important or wrong.
Speaking out is often seen as a push-and-pull for corporate communications.
Not doing it can lead to bad PR and be seen as staying silent on important issues.
But as was seen when Disney (DIS) – Get Walt Disney Company Report‘s CEO spoke out against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill after pressure from employees, it can also bring forth the vengeful wrath of politicians like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
“Big corporations have spent decades advocating for women’s equality in the workplace and abortion ban laws are a direct threat to that,” Anthony Johndrow, chief executive of Reputation Economy Advisors, told CNN.
“Companies are going to have to deal with their own employees demanding action, and answers for donations made to politicians who support the bans.”