Regardless of your personal stance on the overturn of Roe v Wade, any organization that says it provides an equitable and inclusive workplace must support its employees who may need access to abortion, in addition to their mental and physical health, privacy, safety and financial needs.
To truly be equitable and inclusive, this support needs to be available to anyone who is impacted by the necessity to consider, obtain or recover from an abortion. So not just the person who is pregnant but also their partner, spouse, caregiver and/or children.
From a diversity standpoint, your employees of color, your hourly employees, and your employees who are most junior in the organization need the utmost consideration in this. Black women in particular have a much higher maternal mortality rate, and this risk will increase with limits on abortion access. Hourly employees tend to have the least flexibility with work schedules, may be unable to afford to take time off work or travel to a location to obtain care, and are likely to struggle to find child care for their other children while they obtain care and recover. Your most junior employees are likely to be intimidated, fearful or unsure about where to go for information.
What can you do?
Center on your values as an organization. If you state that you provide an equitable environment where your employees can be their whole, authentic selves, this is the time to show that to the fullest extent.
Focus on privacy. Ensure any employee can obtain information on what benefits are available to them easily and confidentially, without having to talk to someone. And if they need to use a benefit, ensure that they can do so with total confidentiality.
Be equitable. Provide materials in all languages spoken across your organization. Explain benefits in simple, easy to follow terms. Provide visuals. Ensure materials are communicated and accessible in multiple physical and online locations without a need for access or devices not available to every employee.
Be inclusive. Create benefits that apply to everyone impacted by the need to consider or obtain an abortion — the person needing the abortion, their partner, spouse, caregiver and/or children. And be open to suggestions from employees on how to best provide support.
Protect dignity. Do not make employees who need to access these benefits complete burdensome paperwork, go through a screening interview or questionnaire or submit receipts for reimbursement.
Create safe spaces. Leverage hybrid work and other flex arrangements to give everyone space to process the change in the law in their own way.
Finally, and most importantly, ACT NOW. Millions of people just lost a right that impacts their lives immediately. Many of them are terrified. Be there for them.
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