It's been seven weeks since the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, effectively removing nearly 50 years of federal protections for abortion — and new research shows that the decision has already had a drastic impact on how women and men are thinking about their careers in the U.S.
Seventy-six percent of women are concerned that the overturn of Roe is going to hurt their careers, according to new research from LeanIn.Org, which surveyed 3,196 U.S. workers last month. This sentiment is even stronger among women under 40 (84%) and women of color (82%).
"Women and other pregnant people inherently get that the ability to make decisions about our bodies, specifically whether or when to have a child, is one of the most important economic decisions that we will make in our lives," Rachel Easter, the director of federal abortion policy initiatives at the National Women's Law Center, tells CNBC Make It.
LeanIn.Org found that employees across political affiliations agree that access to abortion is a workplace issue as well: A majority of Republicans (68%), Democrats (86%) and Independents (74%) think their employer should take concrete steps to protect abortion access.
In light of the court's decision, 34% of women and men under 40 are considering switching jobs to work for a company that offers more generous reproductive health care benefits or takes a public stance in support of abortion, LeanIn.Org reported.
Economists have warned that restricting abortion access would hinder women's education, career trajectories and earning prospects for years, but little has been said about how an overturn of Roe v. Wade could hurt companies' retention rates for other groups.
Kate Bahn, the chief economist at the research non-profit Washington Center for Equitable Growth, stresses that restricting abortion access doesn't just affect women — it has a significant impact on the well-being of spouses, families and children across the U.S. as well.
"Past research has shown that women's increased participation in the economy is one of the most important factors as to whether or not families have livable incomes," she explains. "As we face rising income inequality throughout the U.S., many families are only able to stay afloat because women are working more than they used to … but this decision could hurt women's labor force participation rate and, as a result, families' economic well-being."
LeanIn.Org's new report and other recent research highlight a growing desire among employees to work for a company that aligns with their values, both personal and political. Forty percent of workers said they would likely quit if their organization took a public stance on a political issue they don't agree with, a May CNBC/Momentive survey of over 9,000 U.S. workers found.
More than half of U.S. workers (56%) wouldn't even consider taking a job at a company that didn't share their values according to a Qualtrics survey, which polled 1,178 employees in April.
Women and men of color are about twice as likely as their white counterparts to consider switching jobs if their employer doesn't offer strong reproductive health care benefits or support abortion, according to LeanIn.Org's report, suggesting that failing to speak up on the issue could also jeopardize companies' diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
Black women and Latinas face a larger wage gap than white women, and are more likely to be the primary breadwinners in their families — so the stress and economic pressure they feel from the court's decision is "extremely high," Rachel Thomas, co-founder and CEO of LeanIn.org, says.
"The groups of women who need a steady paycheck the most are going to be those that are most affected, because sadly, we know that if you're a wealthier, older or white woman, you likely have more resources and support to get to a state that offers legal, safe abortions," Thomas adds.
As abortion bans in several states remain active or in legal flux, Easter says companies have a responsibility to help their employees access safe reproductive health care, including health insurance or a stipend that covers the procedure and travel costs associated with it and stronger paid family leave for employees as the U.S. still does not have a federal mandate on paid family leave.
"Companies need to realize that they have an important voice in these policy fights — when business leaders speak up, people listen," she adds. "And if they don't make it clear that they oppose abortion bans and want to support their employees, they could really suffer the consequences."
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