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18 Jul 2022

Clara Hudson, Bloomberg Law

USA: Abortion looms as ESG issue for companies after voiding of Roe

"Abortion Looms as ESG Issue for Companies After Voiding of Roe," 8 Jul 2022

Companies are being cautious and deliberative in how they factor abortion into their long-term ESG plans despite demands for swift action from shareholders, employees, and the public after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

... Most businesses had time to plan an initial statement and response to Roe being overturned, given the draft opinion was leaked in May [2022]. But now, behind closed doors, those companies are mulling a mass of questions, including whether to accommodate part-time workers and provide paid sick leave for any travel.

... Many groups are cataloging the corporate record on abortion access. Don’t Ban Equality, an initiative that emphasizes reproductive health as a workforce and economic issue, has over 500 companies that signed on to the statement.

... Shareholder pressure is expected to rise as investors demand action over reproductive health and see access to abortion as a human capital risk. With a rise in shareholder resolutions, there’s a sense that “if you can’t get it done in government, get the companies to do it,” said Heidi Welsh at Sustainable Investments Institute, a corporate responsibility nonprofit.

... There has been a sizable increase in investor support for shareholder resolutions on aligning political spending with company values in the past several years, and some of those proposals have specifically pointed to reproductive health rights.