From Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd to Citigroup’s Jane Fraser, women CEOs are taking abortion access seriously
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Inditex’s incoming chair is tasked with handling its business in Russia, Hudson’s Bay may bid for Kohl’s, and female CEOs take access to reproductive health care seriously. Have a powerful Thursday.
All three will cover costs for employees who need to travel out of state to access reproductive health care—and all three are led by female CEOs.
As abortion bans that almost completely bar access to the procedure take hold across the U.S.—from the six-week ban and ability for private citizens to sue violators in Texas, to a copycat bill in Idaho, and proposed limits on abortion as used to treat ectopic pregnancy in Missouri—corporate America has been slow to respond.
The business backlash to abortion bans was underwhelming when Texas’s law took effect last fall. Shar Dubey, CEO of the Dallas, Texas-based Match Group, was one of the few executives of a public company to speak out against the state’s ban. She told employees in September that “the company generally does not take political stands unless it is relevant to our business. But in this instance, I personally, as a woman in Texas, could not keep silent.” (Editor’s note: Dubey made the statement after Fortune asked for Match to comment on the law.) Bumble, led by CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, quickly followed with a relief fund for staffers who need to access reproductive care.
Then, yesterday, news broke that Citigroup would provide similar support for its employees. Finance is, without a doubt, a far more conservative industry than online dating, and Citi CEO Jane Fraser’s announcement came not through a splashy press release but in a filing for an April shareholder meeting. “In response to changes in reproductive health-care laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources,” the bank wrote.
Needless to say, Citi stands alone among Wall Street banks in providing help to workers seeking abortion care. It’s also the only major U.S. bank led by a woman. So far, Fraser’s leadership at the bank seems to be influenced by her experiences as a woman and working mother; while Goldman Sachs has ordered employees to return to the office full-time, Citi has touted hybrid, flexible, and remote work as a recruiting tactic. (Fraser herself went part-time earlier in her career at McKinsey when her children were young.)
Now, Fraser is extending that support for working women to a more politically charged territory. Citi has some 8,500 employees in Texas alone—and in a tight labor market, supporting workers who may need to pay exorbitant costs to to receive out-of-state reproductive health care can provide a competitive edge.
While women CEOs seem to be leading the charge, some companies led by men have also drawn a line in the sand. Rather than cover travel costs for workers, Salesforce offered to help Texas-based employees relocate if desired, and Lyft and Uber said they would pay legal fees for drivers sued under the Texas legislation. When it comes to covering travel costs for employees seeking to access abortion, will male CEOs follow suit? Ahead of an expected Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights this summer, more companies may soon be forced to decide.
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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Latest buzz. Ariel Investments co-CEOand Starbucks board chair Mellody Hobson will continue to guide the coffee giant as Howard Schultz returns to take on the role of CEO. Although Schultz is only back temporarily, Hobson says the company still wants the longtime former chief to voice his opinions. "We want the full deal," she said. Wall Street Journal
- Out of style. Marta Ortega is taking over as Inditex chair next month—just in time to deal with Russia, the second-largest market for the retailer's Zara stores. Ortega is the daughter of Inditex founder Amancio Ortega, and she's spent much of her career at the business focused on the Zara brand. Bloomberg
- Retail redo. Hudson's Bay is considering a bid for Kohl's, the $16 billion-in-revenue retailer run by CEO Michelle Gass. Activist investors have been circling Kohl's for months, and its stock climbed 17% on the news. CNBC
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Fertility tech company TMRW Life Sciences named Elizabeth Carr, the first person born via IVF in the U.S., director of clinic and product marketing. The Fuller Project named Washington Post editor Eva Rodriguez editor-in-chief. Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission commissioner Nora Mead Brownell joins Clean Energy Ventures as a venture partner. Founder Sue Marks will step down as CEO of recruitment process outsourcing business Cielo; COO Marissa Geist will succeed Marks as CEO and join the company's board. Microsoft corporate VP for global retail and consumer goods industries Shelley Bransten joins the board of Trove; the circular shopping company also hired Jamin Nieri as SVP of operations. The Ms. Foundation for Women promoted Ellen Liu to VP of grant-making and capacity building. Georgia Institute of Technology's Tia Jackson-Truitt will join the Penn Museum as chief diversity officer. Marsh McLennan named Katherine J. Brennan SVP and general counsel. CAMP4 Therapeutics named Ann Barbier chief medical officer. Vantage Leadership Consulting hired Sara Nelson as director of marketing.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Weighty legislation. There are no laws against weight discrimination in much of the U.S., but legislation making its way through statehouses in Massachusetts and New York would ban employment and housing weight discrimination. The laws would apply protections to millions more Americans than current piecemeal city bans on such discrimination. Bloomberg
- What to expect. Ahead of Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearings next week, Democrats are preparing for objections from their Republican colleagues. It's likely that GOP lawmakers will fixate on Jackson's time representing detainees at Guantánamo Bay. Sen. Mitch McConnell has already characterized Jackson's supporters as the "soft-on-crime brigade." New York Times
- Cuomo vs. CNN. Former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who was let go from the network for advising his brother ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a sexual harassment scandal, is claiming wrongful termination. The former anchor is seeking $125 million through arbitration. NBC News
ON MY RADAR
What a whiteboard-wielding congresswoman wears to work The Cut
How to support a child on the transgender spectrum New York Times
The war in Ukraine is a reproductive health crisis for millions Wired
-Sedona Prince, the University of Oregon forward who posted a viral video of the inferior weight room provided to women athletes at last year's N.C.A.A. tournament.
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