How B Lab and B Corps are Helping Business Leaders Navigate Equitable Access to Healthcare
By B Lab U.S. & Canada
June 27, 2022
Across the globe, movements for equity and justice are gaining momentum. But in the United States, we find ourselves in a moment where the rights of women, and anyone who can get pregnant, are being dismantled with the repeal of Roe v. Wade. The elimination of federal protections for abortion means business leaders must step up to protect workers and prevent inequality from becoming entrenched for generations to come.
The role of B Lab U.S. & Canada is to model transformational business practices that address society’s most critical challenges and mobilize the B Corp community towards collective action. While the Supreme Court’s decision concerns us on many fronts, our focus is how it preempts the values embedded in our Theory of Change: that businesses must be accountable to all stakeholders, and commit to justice and anti-racism for the benefit of all people and the planet. Upholding these values hinges on the protection of fundamental human rights, including bodily autonomy, privacy, and access to healthcare.
In light of this repeal, mission-driven businesses — especially B Corps — should be concerned about their ability to support the wellbeing of a key stakeholder group: their employees. B Corps set the standard for a better way to do business by holding themselves accountable to anyone who is materially affected by their decision-making, including workers, customers, local communities, wider society, and the environment. When businesses stand up for their workers, they begin to work toward actively dismantling the systems that contribute to an inequitable society. Businesses committed to advancing gender equity in their workplace will be significantly impacted by this decision. Research shows that women who were denied abortions experienced significant economic hardship and were less likely to be employed full time, years down the road.
Moreover, the overturn of Roe v. Wade undoubtedly worsens racial disparities. Black, Indigenous and People of Color — and Black women in particular — experience medical discrimination, higher rates of maternal mortality, and greater income inequality than their white counterparts. Restricting abortion access only compounds these factors, further entrenching systemic racism. We expect that people of means and privilege will still be able to access an abortion, while those with limited or no financial resources, living in red states or rural areas, or experiencing systemic barriers will miss out on opportunities, career paths, and life experiences that should be available to everyone.
B Lab pledged in July 2020 to stand against anti-Black racism and all forms of oppression including transphobia, classism, sexism, and xenophobia. In doing so, we committed to a focused and sustained action to dismantle racist systems, policies, practices, and ideologies within ourselves and our networks. To that end, we are sharing the policy changes we are working to implement as an organization, with the hope that others will adopt policies of their own.
As a remote-first organization, some of our employees and dependents may find themselves in states where abortion is illegal. To address this and further dismantle barriers to healthcare access, B Lab U.S. & Canada is actively working to craft and adopt an equitable policy that goes above and beyond medical benefits to cover expenses for any employee or dependent who needs to travel to access reproductive healthcare, including an abortion. We will work to adopt a policy that reimburses plane fare, lodging, childcare, and other associated costs. We will also ensure to minimize personal disclosure to protect employees’ privacy throughout this process. And finally, we will continue to evaluate our policies to ensure they are expansive enough to meet the needs of all employees.
We are not the first to institute such policies. Leaders in the B Corp community like Amalgamated Bank, Culture Amp, and others have all made earlier commitments. We encourage all business leaders to stand against inequality, protect the wellbeing of their employees, and take action to support equitable access to reproductive healthcare for all.
At B Lab U.S. & Canada, we know a better world is both possible and urgently needed. We see historic momentum for making deep changes to the current system — change powered by businesses acting together through the B Corp movement.
On Wednesday, July 13 at 12 p.m. ET, Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, and Amalgamated Bank will lead a discussion reflecting on how businesses can navigate the post-Roe reality. We invite the B Corp community to join us as these companies share resources on internal policy, external advocacy, and supporting resources to access reproductive care.