Levi Strauss & Co., the iconic clothing brand, announced on Wednesday that it will pay the travel expenses of employees who must leave their home state to get an abortion.
“We know this is a fraught conversation; it’s not something we enter into lightly. But women make up 58 percent of our global workforce, and in recent years, numerous employees have expressed to leadership their growing alarm over the rollback of all forms of reproductive care,” the San Francisco-based company said in a statement.
“Our position on this is in keeping with our efforts to support employees and family members at all stages of their lives.”
The 169-year old brand told The New York Times that the push to rollback abortion rights will have “far-reaching consequences for the American work force, the U.S. economy and our nation’s pursuit of gender and racial equity.”
The Times notes that Apple, Amazon, Citigroup and Yelp have announced similar policies to help their employees obtain reproductive healthcare. Meta’s powerful COO Sheryl Sandberg, author of the feminist book Lean In, said Tuesday was “a scary day for women all across our country” after a draft opinion leaked to POLITICO indicated that Roe v. Wade will soon be overturned.
Virgin founder Richard Branson also voiced strong opposition to the Supreme Court document.
“If so-called pro-life advocates are really concerned about abortions, there are far more effective way to keep numbers low: lift people out of poverty and improve their access to education and economic opportunity; inform young people about their reproductive rights and choices; make contraceptives widely available,” he said.
But the rest of corporate America has stayed largely quiet, reluctant to wade into a contentious culture war issue. Fortune reached out to dozens of the largest American companies for reaction to the imminent end of Roe v. Wade and many – including Walmart, Amazon, and Disney – did not provide a response.
A lot of that hesitation stems from Florida’s recent treatment of Disney, which had its special tax status stripped after criticizing a controversial bill that prevents teachers from talking about sexual or gender identity with young school children.
“Disney was a real wake up call for a lot of big companies,” said Doug Pinkham, the president of the Public Affairs Council, a Washington-based group that advises companies on political and policy engagement.
Companies are in a “quandary” now, he said. On one side you have an increasingly young and educated white-collar workforce urging them to take a stand. On the other hand is the risk of alienating powerful lawmakers in the states where big companies do business.
Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at OANDA, told Fortune on Wednesday that corporate America is “afraid of taking a strong position” on the Roe v Wade debate as it “could easily anger or alienate a good amount of their customers and workers.”
“The country is divided on abortion rights, and companies do not want to risk taking a position that could clash with anyone’s religious beliefs,” he said.
But companies could be taking a risk by staying quiet on what is widely perceived as an attack on women’s reproductive rights.
Half of U.S. voters do not believe Roe v Wade should be overturned, according to a poll conducted by Politico and Morning Consult, while just 28% believe the ruling should be overturned.
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