In the wake of the SCOTUS’ ruling in overturning Roe v. Wade, executives have been grappling with how to respond across the country. “This is a moment of reflection for companies to think about who they are and how consistent their messaging is,” says Chief Member Daisy Auger-Dominguez, who serves as Chief People Officer at Vice Media Group.

At Vice, Auger-Dominguez says that speaking out in support of women’s rights was “a no-brainer,” as her team immediately jumped into action to communicate their stance to staff and to reiterate the abortion care coverage their medical plan already had when the leaked draft opinion was published.

“I think that for many organizations that are grappling with what they're going to say and do, they have to first really make sure that it's consistent and credible with who they are as an organization,” she says. “I think that organizations shouldn’t be reactive to this moment, but be really thoughtful about their response, building out their decisioning framework, their communications framework, and spending time listening to what their employees need."

As private sector leaders continue to navigate their response, we spoke to Chief Members about the steps they took internally — and externally — to both support their staff and publicly support women’s reproductive rights. From covering traveling costs, to expanding mental health benefits, and adding in special open enrollment periods, these executives detail how the actions they took impacted employees and the key lessons they learned in the process.

Daisy Auger-Dominguez, Chief People Officer at Vice Media Group

Action Taken: Created Special Open Enrollment for Expanded Benefits

Once the Supreme Court ruling was officially announced on Friday, June 24, Auger-Dominguez says she and her team worked with their insurance provider Cigna to expand their medical benefits to include travel coverage, which will go into effect on August 1. “The reason why we're doing this on August 1 is that we wanted to do a special open enrollment in July so that people can decide if they want to change, enroll, or waive some of their Cigna medical options. We're uncovering different case studies every day and we just uncovered someone who is in a state with concerns about the bans and this woman is not covered by our medical benefits because she was under her husband's.”

The Takeaway: Do an Audit of Where Staff Has Relocated to

“When we reviewed where our employees are located, we found a number of employees may have recently moved to states that may be immediately impacted by this decision. And so it was a reminder to make sure that we’re conducting thoughtful audits of where our employees work and live across the country.

“We, like many companies, have moved over to a hybrid model, which includes remote work. But, there are certain states that we are not registered to work in and this may very well be data that informs whether we decide to register in a state.”

Amy Sezak, SVP, Corporate Communications & PR at Yelp

Action Taken: Expanded Benefits

“Yelp has a remote workforce with employees in all 50 states so we wanted to make sure they have consistent access to the health services they need — regardless of where they live. Like the vast majority of Americans, our CEO and other leaders at Yelp believe that decisions about reproductive healthcare should be made by women and their doctors. When it was clear that access to abortion care was at risk in a number of states where our employees reside, we knew we wanted to take action to support those employees. As we announced in April, this led us to expand our health insurance coverage — which already covered abortion care — to now also cover the cost of travel for employees and their covered dependents who need to travel out of state to access reproductive care due to restrictions in their home state.”

Action Taken: Communicated Internally & Externally

“Yelp Co-Founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman announced the benefit in an email to our employees on April 12 — prior to the anticipated Supreme Court ruling which would decide the fate of Roe, as well as the unexpected leak of the draft decision in Dobbs. We intentionally decided to go public with our announcement because we hoped to encourage and inspire other companies to consider similar policies to support their employees.

“After the draft decision was leaked in early May, Jeremy penned an essay calling on other business leaders to step up to help employees have access to the reproductive care they need. Once Roe was sadly overturned, he again reminded Yelp employees of the benefits available to support their access to healthcare.”

Maggie Malek, CEO at MMI Agency and Lauren Scotton, HR Director at MMI Agency

Action Taken: Expanded Benefits

In addition to reiterating their mental health benefits to staff, which includes unlimited virtual therapy and free access to the Headspace app, Malek and Scotton worked with their insurance provider Cigna to expand coverage to include travel costs for abortion care.

“Traditionally, insurance has paid for travel costs [associated with] organ transplants,” says Scotton. So they decided covering travel for abortion care should follow suit. “We're in the final stages of updating all of our insurance plans to cover travel up to a certain amount for our employees and any dependents in the plan. And that way, we can support our employees but still keep their privacy in place. We don't want to know their full life. We don't want them to feel like they have to come to us. We want them to have this outlet where it's still between them and their provider.”

The Takeaway: FSA and HSA Accounts Can Be Used for Abortion-Related Travel

After updating their medical benefits to include travel coverage, Scotton says she and Malek soon learned that many insurance companies are now allowing employees to use FSA and HSA account money to cover abortion-related travel costs.

“So the non-taxable money you’re putting in those accounts can count towards travel for companies that don’t have a travel policy built into their insurance,” she says. “The other learning is that unfortunately every company is not going to be able to build these benefits into their plans if they're not on a self-funded insurance type plan. So I think it’s up to us [executives] to really put pressure on insurance companies to make this a more basic offering. It shouldn’t just be the companies that are equipped to have these self-funded expansive plans. It should be that every plan now covers these basic rights.”

The Takeaway: Provide Protection for Employees Without Infringing on Their Privacy

For Malek, she says her biggest learning is that even if you do try to keep a level of privacy for your employees, the overturn of Roe v. Wade now makes many people feel like they have to share more of their personal life with their employer. A boundary that she says no one should feel pressured to cross.

“The sad thing with Roe is these very personal stories that I have gotten from employees thanking me and Lauren, and telling us what they have been through and why this matters to them, is a different kind of heartbreak that I don't think people should have to share with their employer. I think they're telling me and Lauren to let us know that we're doing the right thing, but it's been a lot.”

The Takeaway: Why Speaking Publicly Matters

“When the first ban [in Texas] went into place back in September, we sent a message out to the agency, but we weren't as public about it. It was kind of like an understated, We are here. We will take care of whatever you need. And we reiterated all of our mental health benefits,” said Malek.

“Part of why we decided to get really loud when the Supreme Court leak happened was because it's great to say things internally and to talk about it internally, but in order to put pressure on politicians and people in Texas to do the right thing, we actually have to be talking about it publicly. So we had a lot of conversations to weigh the benefits and the risks and, for me personally, it felt like as a woman who has a platform, if I don't take the time to say something now, I will look back and realize that I missed a really powerful opportunity to use my voice.”

Christie Fleischer, CEO at Benefit Cosmetics

Action Taken: Covered Travel Costs Out of Pocket

“The primary shift that we made is paying for travel where if an employee needs it, they can get the right reproductive healthcare in a state that will offer it. So we moved on that quickly and immediately upon the announcement from the Supreme Court’s [decision], we sent out internal communications that day.”

Action Taken: Communicated Internally & Externally

“We have a large employee group in the United States and they're geographically located all across the [country],” says Fleischer of Benefit’s roughly 700 U.S.-based employees. “So we wanted to move quickly on the communication to ensure that everybody, especially in the states that were affected, were going to get this benefit fast. It was myself and the head of HR who quickly updated our executive committee and then we sent out an email to everybody in the United States. We then followed up with a global message to the senior teams.”

The Takeaway: It’s Important to Make an Implied Stance Explicit

“A long-standing value of this company is empowerment of women. Planned Parenthood is one of our charity partners that we work with regularly, so we have been pretty vocal about our stance. Interestingly, I almost thought that there wouldn't be as much of a response internally because there would be almost an expectation due to our positioning as a brand. But it was an overwhelmingly positive response back. I did not have any concerns [speaking out] and I think it's largely because there have been moments in time where it was clear to myself, and us internally, on where our brand is positioned, [which implies] how our company is positioned, and then what our stance will be on [certain] topics. This is a case where I understand the implications of people having different views, but our perspective was very clear.”

Fleischer, along with many of the leaders interviewed here, have signed Don’t Ban Equality, a corporate-led statement with over 330 executive signatures that asserts how a lack of reproductive care will impact the economic stability of their workforce and customers. Auger-Dominguez says if your company's response is clear and you’re ready to take a public stance, consider signing onto Don’t Ban Equality. “It’s one of the strongest movements that I've seen so far.”