Possible Impacts of the Decision by Group
Employees Who Can Become Pregnant
- There may be fewer people who can become pregnant in the workforce.
- Increased caregiving responsibilities will prohibit some from working.
- More people who can become pregnant will die from unsafe abortions due to lack of access to safe abortions, effects from forced childbirth, death during childbirth or by suicide to avoid forced childbirth, ectopic pregnancies, or death at the hands of the sperm provider.
- Anxiety/stress/fear/anger due to lack of reproductive autonomy and accompanying issues may affect overall employee engagement and productivity.
- Those working may be more burdened with caregiving responsibilities while working.
- The “motherhood penalty” where having children results in worse career outcomes for women, may be exacerbated.
- Unanticipated or unwanted caregiving may result in underemployment or unemployment.
- The issue of limited time off post-partum (or post-miscarriage) will impact more people.
- Parental leave in the United States is especially limited for low income and hourly workers.
- Unpaid childbirth/parental leave may impact workers within the same company in different ways based on where they live and ever-changing laws.
- Limited access to lactation options at work, especially for low-wage jobs, persists and may become more challenging with even more workers needing such accommodation.
- The possibility for economic hardship due to the need to travel a long distance for medical care or becoming a single parent will increase.
All Employees with Caregiving Responsibilities
- Financial strain/economic instability and hardship may increase due to:
- Caregiving expenses (unplanned for or unaffordable)
- More dependents than planned
- Schedule conflicts, particularly for single parents without support
- Unplanned child support payments
- Additional time off to care for sick children
- Increased housing costs and other living expenses
- There may be a reduced ability to family plan and therefore career plan.
Employees from Other Underrepresented or Stigmatized Groups
- Increased anxiety/stress/fear around the lack of ability to family plan may exacerbate pre-existing career disadvantages (e.g., promotion, access to mentors).
- There may be new fears that additional rights will be taken away by future Supreme Court decisions (e.g., marriage equality, interracial marriage).
- Transgender people may face an even more complicated and less supportive reproductive healthcare environment.
Organizations, Executive Leadership, Talent Acquisition
- Implications on War for Talent/Great Resignation:
- Employees may flee to states that protect abortion rights.
- Organizations’ communication, or lack thereof, about this issue could affect their attractiveness to job candidates.
- A lack of investment in support (abortion, caregiving, lactation, parental leave) could also affect attractiveness of the organization to job candidates.
- A reduced number of available people to hire due to pregnancy, childbirth, caregiving responsibilities, and childcare shortages could exacerbate the labor shortage.
- Succession planning may become more complex and difficult to plan effectively due to employees’ lack of family planning autonomy.
- A workforce with fewer people who can become pregnant means less diverse organizations, with implications:
- There is a potential for fewer women role models in companies, resulting in reduced attractiveness as an employer.
- Fewer women in leadership, which research shows will result in less productivity/lower-quality decision making for the organization.
- When and how the organization responds is important, and the response will be most effective if thoughtful and intended for all employees
- Reproductive rights is a divisive issue, and there are people with strong views, therefore, the response needs to be supportive of all and not alienating those in support of the decision.
- Leaders and individual managers must be able and willing to discuss this issue thoughtfully with employees.
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Practical Recommendations by Role
- Consider if your organization will issue a statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling. The effective overturning of Roe v. Wade is viewed by some as a human rights issue that affects all employees. Any statement should emphasize the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace.
- Pay a living wage and offer affordable health insurance (with coverage for comprehensive reproductive healthcare) to all employees.
- Provide (or enhance) caregiving services/accommodations offered by the organization.
- Subsidize employees’ childcare, offer onsite childcare, and/or offer flexible schedules and family-friendly office environments.
- Consider covering costs of travel for medical care to states where abortion is safe and legal.
- Offer (or update) flexible work policies to be more accommodating for employees with existing and/or unanticipated caregiving responsibilities.
- Invest in the communities in which you operate. Consider donating to reproductive rights groups, adoption/foster care networks, pregnancy centers, caregiving facilities, and/or other organizations that align with your company’s values.
- Familiarize yourself with the organization’s related statement, policies, and resources, including caregiving support, mental health offerings, travel covered for medical procedures, etc. Ensure employees know how to leverage these resources.
- Communicate support for all human rights to your team.
- Create a safe space for employees to share candidly and to listen compassionately.
- Demonstrate family-supportive supervisor behaviors (e.g., no meetings during typical child drop-off and pick-up times, encourage flexible work arrangements).
- Advocate for a diverse workgroup and an inclusive work environment for all (e.g., speak up when you see discriminatory behavior, challenge common practices that have unintended consequences).
- Educate yourself on the impacts of the Supreme Court’s decision.
- Provide social support. Make yourself available to serve as a confidant and listen compassionately; avoid diminishing others’ experiences.
- Offer to help colleagues in need when unexpected caregiving issues arise (e.g., trade shifts, present on their behalf, partner to help them complete their work by a deadline).
- Explicitly invite other potential allies to join advocacy efforts. Share the information you learn with others to raise awareness of the implications of this decision.
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