Corporate silence on abortion could cost employers their workers

October 27, 2022, 11:55 AM UTC
Roberto Machado Noa—Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! This is Paige McGlauflin, and I’ll be writing The Broadsheet once a week. I’m excited to appear in your inboxes regularly. Here’s what’s on tap today: Zara owner Inditex sells its Russian business; three men are found guilty in the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; and workers expect more from their employers when it comes to abortion.

Time to act Keeping quiet on abortion could cost companies their workers. According to a new survey by women’s nonprofit Catalyst, 30% of employees are considering leaving their employer over its response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June.

Soon after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization draft decision leaked in May, public relations firm Zeno, whose clients include Coca-Cola, Salesforce, and Netflix, sent a memo advising against speaking up about abortion rights. The firm later clarified that the notice only advised clients against responding within the first 24 hours of the leak.

But Catalyst’s survey shows that many workers want their employers to take action on abortion rights and be vocal about it. Forty-four percent of those surveyed say their employer is not doing enough to ensure abortion access, including offering health care plans that cover abortion and related travel costs. Fifty-nine percent of surveyed employees—69% for workers ages 18 to 34—want more clarity and transparency around their employer’s reproductive health care policies.

“This is no longer a hypothetical; employees are worried about their futures and making career decisions based on how their companies and leaders address abortion access,” Catalyst CEO Lorraine Hariton recently told my colleague Megan Leonhardt. “All of this points to what we already know: Abortion access is a workplace issue. We are in a labor shortage, and recruitment and retention are already a challenge. At a time when we need to be thinking about talent engagement and employee retention, leaders cannot afford to ignore this.”

In fact, a third of employees want their CEO to advocate for abortion protections, Catalyst found. Some leaders have done just that in the wake of Roe’s reversal, including Paramount CEO Bob Bakish and Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Lauren Hobart, who issued statements lambasting the decision. 

Taking a public stance might have paid off for these companies. Employees are nearly twice as likely to say their organization genuinely cares about addressing employee needs if the organization took action in response to Roe’s retraction, such as making a statement or highlighting or expanding reproductive health benefits (83% compared with 45% for organizations that did not take action).

Employees say they’d use these benefits, too—43% to be exact. Employer support for abortion is especially crucial for low-wage workers, many of whom would not be able to access reproductive care without it. Over one-third of all employees say they could not afford to travel for an abortion if they or their partner needed one without financial assistance from their organization. And nearly 40% say they would not be able to take time off without employer assistance.

Read more about Catalyst’s findings here.

Paige McGlauflin

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Subscribe here.


Out of Russia Zara owner Inditex, chaired by board member Marta Ortega, is selling its Russian business operations to the UAE-based Daher Group. Inditex halted operations in Russia, its second-largest market, at the onset of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Bloomberg

Taking a dip Microsoft reported its slowest revenue growth since 2017 on Tuesday. While weakening computer sales and a strong dollar were key reasons behind the drop, chief financial officer Amy Hood also blamed Europe’s mounting energy supply crisis. Fortune

My politician, my doctor, and me Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania’s Senate seat, believes abortion should remain within the purview of patients and their doctors—and local politicians. Oz said he supports state decisions on abortion over a federal ban during the first and only debate against Democratic candidate John Fetterman. Business Insider

Unlikely contenders Private equity firm Carlyle is on the hunt for a new CEO, and insiders are vying for the top job, Fortune’s Luisa Beltran reports. While an opportunity to get a woman into the top role has opened (and could set Carlyle apart, given that its rivals are all led by men), sources say it’s unlikely to happen. Sandra Horbach, co-head of its U.S. buyout arm, is reportedly not interested in running the firm. And it’s doubtful Adena Friedman, Carlyle’s former CFO, now Nasdaq CEO, will return to her former stomping ground. Fortune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS Writer Molly Jong-Fast has left The Atlantic. Salt Security has hired Renee Hollinger as chief people officer and America Forrest Kaye as vice president of customer success. Communications firm Sunshine Sachs Morgan & Lylis has appointed Amelia Makin executive vice president; Gabrielle Lee senior vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and Brooke Blumberg as senior vice president of awards and content.


Guilty verdict A Michigan jury convicted three men on Wednesday for providing material support to a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The men could face up to 20 years in prison, and a sentencing date is set for Dec. 15. Axios

Scoring goals On Friday, the New York University and University of Chicago men’s soccer teams will face off at Gaelic Park in the Bronx. But it’s not just any match; Friday’s game is believed to be the first NCAA men’s soccer game where both coaches are women: Kim Wyant of NYU and Julianne Sitch of UChicago. New York Times

Pay transparency New York City’s salary transparency law will go into effect on Nov. 1. The law aims to boost gender pay equity. As New York employers prepare for the policy’s enactment, they can look to Colorado, which passed a similar law in January 2021. Fortune


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Believe me, when anything’s happening, the whole world calls me and says, ‘Maybe you should try Joe Manchin.’ I’m like, ‘I’ve got it, I’ll talk to him. I’ll talk to Lance, his chief of staff.’”

—Actor Jennifer Garner, who grew up in West Virginia, on her unexpected connection to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin

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