Companies are acting to preserve choice, even as they avoid talking about the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision
Business reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade has been an interesting case study in CEO activism. Only a minority of companies—about 10%, according to a Conference Board survey—have made public statements on the issue. And who can blame them? Abortion continues to be a polarizing issue that divides their employees as well as the country.
But a majority—51%—have made, or plan to make, some sort of internal response. Top of the list is making sure benefit plans provide travel expenses to employees who need to go out of state for health services. In short, companies are acting to preserve choice, even as they avoid talking about the Supreme Court decision.
The acting isn’t always easy. Companies can’t just reimburse such travel out of their expense budgets without threatening patient privacy. And there are endless legal questions about whether companies risk liability under existing, or yet to be written, state laws.
That’s why TriNet—which provides HR services to tens of thousands of small and medium-sized companies—is announcing today two new product offerings for clients to add to their benefit plans. One will provide tax-free travel reimbursement for employees to receive medical care far from home. The other will provide tax-free benefits for expenses incurred during the adoption process. By providing both, companies can preserve employee choice and further avoid making a political statement.
“Larger companies either already had travel covered in their existing health plans, or they quickly added it” after the Supreme Court decision, says Samantha Wellington, executive vice president and chief legal officer for TriNet. “Smaller companies are seeing what the large companies are doing. They want to make choice available.” Interestingly, the new TriNet benefits also can be extended to employees who aren’t covered by a company’s health care plan.
As for the talking part: I’m hearing from a growing number of large companies that are putting new processes in place to help decide when they should, and when they shouldn’t, speak out on controversial public issues. Questions asked in that process: Is this an issue that is core to our values as a company? Is it an issue in which we have special standing or expertise? And is it in an issue in which our voice will make a difference? These companies aren’t retreating to the standard of a decade ago, when “no-comment” was the default response for anything that didn’t directly affect the bottom line. But they are being more deliberate about when to speak out.
More news below. And be sure to catch this week’s episode of our podcast Leadership Next, in which Thrive CEO Arianna Huffington and Genesys CEO Tony Bates talk about how efforts to reduce employee stress lead to improved customer service. You can listen on Spotify or Apple.
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Meta yesterday reported its first quarterly revenue decline since it floated a decade ago. Its Reality Labs virtual-and-augmented-reality division lost a whopping $2.8 billion—though it did also beat analyst expectations for the $452 million in revenue it brought in in Q2. (Bonus read: the FTC wants to block Meta from buying a VR startup called Within, and the VC sector is outraged because flipping startups to big players is their core business.) Fortune
The Federal Reserve yesterday announced a 75-basis-point rate increase, meaning the central bank’s overnight interest rate has over the last several months jumped from nearly zero to between 2.25% and 2.5%. But despite the Fed’s most aggressive tightening of monetary policy in four decades, Chair Jerome Powell said he did not believe a recession was necessary to rein in inflation. Reuters
The Senate has finally approved $52 billion in funding for U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, to help the country keep up with China. It won’t solve the current chip shortage, though. Vox
AROUND THE WATERCOOLER
Sen. Manchin unexpectedly agrees to a health, energy, and tax deal with Democrats, by Associated Press
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.
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