It only took a few hours after the leak announcing the possible reversal of the Supreme Court of the United States on the question of abortion for part of the American economy to react publicly. “Knowing what is at stake, corporate leaders must speak up and take action to safeguard the health and well-being of our employees,” Levi Strauss officials wrote. “This involves protecting reproductive rights. »
Like the famous jeans manufacturer, Apple is committed to covering the costs incurred by its employees who should travel to another state to perform a voluntary termination of pregnancy (IVG). Going back on the right to abortion “would jeopardize the rights of millions of women”, the participatory research platform Yelp told AFP, which evokes “an earthquake for our society and our economy” and calls on companies to ” initiate “.
“An unusual period politically”
Since the entry into force in September, in Texas, of a new law reducing the time limit for performing an abortion to six weeks, the taboo has been cracked and Amazon, Uber or even the bank Citigroup have all announced that they will bear the costs. additional costs that this text may induce for their employees.
“We are living in an unusual time politically and this issue has become paramount again, which will force companies to come forward,” said Maurice Schweitzer, professor at Wharton University of Pennsylvania. “Companies located in states that could go back (on access to abortion) must decide whether or not they cover the associated costs (…), this therefore forces them to position themselves de facto”, affirms Neeru Paharia, professor at Georgetown University. According to the New York Times, Tesla, which has just moved its headquarters from California to Texas, has pledged to reimburse these expenses.
“A question of generation”
The new audacity of some of the American companies is also linked to the fact that “in this country, people in favor (of the right to abortion) are more numerous than those who are opposed to it”, recalls Neeru Paharia. The announcements of several leading companies are part “of a general trend” at work for about ten years and which “has really gained momentum under the Trump era”, she underlines.
Immigration, rights of the LGBT community, arms legislation, the “Black Lives Matter” movement, access to the right to vote… Contentious subjects followed one another in a climate of exacerbated polarization, and many companies were pressed to react by some of their employees. “It’s a question of generation,” explains Mark Hass, a professor at Arizona State University. “Millennials, Gen Z (born since the late 90s) are increasingly concerned about the values of their company. “Apple, Amazon or Uber want to have the best professionals,” he continues, “so their employees serve as a bit of a compass. “The job market is tight and some qualifications are hard to find,” adds Neeru Paharia. Expectations of employers have also risen, she said, in a country where trust in the political system has been eroding for many years.
The “tech companies” more inclined to “move” on the subject
Maurice Schweitzer makes a distinction between the flagships of the new economy, whose employees are more qualified than average and often able to work from anywhere, and more traditional companies, sometimes established in more conservative regions. The latter often have less mobile and less qualified employees, whose influence vis-à-vis their employer is often more limited. “That’s a key reason why tech companies, for example, will move” on the subject of abortion, he says, “while others will try to stay away. »
Contrary to some precedents, firms that have taken sides publicly have generally escaped backlash (calls for boycotts or smear campaigns). Republican Senator Marco Rubio has tabled a bill that would prevent companies from benefiting from tax reductions on their expenses related to the payment of travel for an abortion, but it has little chance of succeeding. “People who want to restrict access to abortion are a minority, and it seems that they are recording victories at the moment”, analyzes Maurice Schweitzer. “So I’m not surprised that (the Conservatives) are pretty calm. »