Supporting Your People in a Post-Roe v. Wade World
We love the work we do at Artemis. Working with tech companies gives us the opportunity to build a better world and better workplaces. We’ve said this before: it’s important to us, and we know it’s important to every great leader we work with, that the work we do each day has a positive impact on the world we live in.
Comprehensive reproductive healthcare, which includes abortion access, is foundational to a better world with better workplaces. The overturning of abortion rights by the US Supreme Court contradicts the fundamental human right to bodily autonomy and directly contradicts any efforts to meaningfully advance diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in the workplace and beyond.
Whether you have employees in the US or not, your organizations, teams and employees will very likely need your support now and in the days, months and years ahead. We don’t have all the answers - we’re still processing, learning and formulating our own plan of action as a team - but we do want to support you in any way we can. In times of crisis (and there have been too many in the past 2 years), connecting with our tech community is what feels natural and necessary to us.
If you’re a leader looking for a starting point to support your organization and your employees, we hope this helps:
Ask your teams how they’re feeling. Genuinely ask, and then make the space for those
feelings: their grief, anger, defeat, hope, frustration, fear, worry, and defiance. You don’t
need to have an action plan and you don’t need to have all the answers, but you can
use this as an opportunity to build trust with your teams. We’re all humans here and this
has been a hard week, piled on top of 2 long, hard years. If your people aren’t feeling
full of hope and optimism right now, if productivity is down, if people need space to get
outside, be with loved ones, or attend a protest, listen and make that space. It’s in these
moments that trust is built.
2. Put on your own oxygen mask
We know you know this, but we also know that as leaders, you’ll need the reminder.
Before assisting others, put on your own oxygen mask. Take care of yourself, be gentle
with yourself, and take the advice you give your teams: get out for your own walks,
disconnect, talk to a mentor or therapist or spend time with family. Taking care of
yourself will put you in a better position to support your people.
3. Know where your employees are and the restrictions they are (or will be) facing:
Teams are geographically distributed now more than ever. If you have employees in the
US, know what state they’re in and where that state falls (or will likely fall) on the right to
abortion. This can help you determine what your approach will be. Abortionfinder.org
tracks the legal status of abortion across the US and is frequently updated.
4. Evaluate your health and benefits coverage:
If you do have employees in states restricting abortion, and/or if you will continue to
hire in restrictive states, these employees and their dependents will need your
protection and support. Look at your benefit plans to understand what is covered and if
you’d like to make changes. Covering out-of-state travel and related expenses, adding
a fertility, adoption, infertility, and family-building assistance program, and ensuring
employees have time off to vote and volunteer are just some of the changes we’re
seeing companies implement.
If you are considering any of the above, here are some things to keep in mind:
Reimbursing costs assumes your employees have the money to pay the up-front costs of travel, childcare, abortion, and the care required afterwards. Lead with trust and consider providing funds upfront.
If you’re structuring support as an employee benefit, can your most vulnerable employees access it from day one? To prevent further exacerbating inequalities in the workplace, make sure these benefits are accessible to your hourly, part-time, contract employees and interns.
What kind of paperwork do employees need to fill out, and who will have access to that information? How will it be stored? This process will need to be easy and quick for an employee to access and navigate, and their data privacy needs to be guaranteed.
Work with your benefits provider to ensure this is all completely confidential.
5. Be Vigilant and Reassess, Reassess, Reassess:
Laws that increasingly limit access to abortion will be going into effect in the days,
weeks and months ahead. What works today may not work tomorrow. “Agile” is the
name of the game in tech and you’ll need to stay agile here too. Abortionfinder.org has
a frequently updated State-by-State Guide to help you stay informed and up-to-date.
6. Remember that offering Reproductive Healthcare is not making a stand: it’s caring for
The overturning of Roe v. Wade will impact your ability to attract and retain talent,
particularly talent from already-stigmatized and marginalized groups or communities.
For example, we anticipate that whether an employer offers comprehensive
reproductive healthcare will be increasingly front of mind for prospective talent. While
you may be hesitant, reluctant, or unable to make a public political statement, you can
reframe the conversation from political, to one that focuses on employee care (we really
like this article by Suein Hwang at TIME). Ensuring access to healthcare isn’t making a
stand: it’s critical to supporting your workforce, and reproductive health is one very
critical piece of healthcare.
7. Don’t assume this is a non-issue in Canada:
This post by Planned Parenthood Toronto shares how the overturning of Roe v. Wade
will affect reproductive rights in Canada. They’ve also created a helpful Do's and Don'ts
Guide for Canadians.
8. If you can, choose an organization that your company will support:
Planned Parenthood Toronto has provided these recommendations as starting points:
Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights (Planned Parenthood Canada)
This isn’t comprehensive. We hope it’s a start. This will be a marathon and not a sprint, so take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and as always - if you have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions…we’re an email away.
Until next time,
Carly & the Artemis Team