No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens. –Michelle Obama
We’ve been reeling this week. The news that the Supreme Court of the United States is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade in whole, while not surprising, is nonetheless devastating. The end of Roe will have damaging consequences for so many, but disproportionately the poor and people of color, and will reshape families, communities, and American life. So while we work through our emotional reactions to this, we wanted to take a moment to share with you how Clean Yield has been working over the last several years to protect access to reproductive health care.
Since 2019, Clean Yield has worked closely with our partners at Rhia Ventures and with other investors to engage with corporations about reproductive health care, rights, and public policy. This work has focused on two fronts: encouraging companies to ensure that their workforce has access to reproductive health care in a post-Roe environment and making sure that corporate political spending does not undermine commitments to women in the workplace (i.e., you can’t claim to be committed to women in the workplace and also fund anti-abortion legislation). This year, we have filed proposals on reproductive health at Walmart, FedEx, and Cigna. Our proposal at Cigna earned 40.8% shareholder support at the company’s recent annual meeting.
We increasingly see corporations recognizing that being committed to equity and inclusion means also being committed to ensuring that employees have access to comprehensive reproductive care. In the last few weeks, corporations like Amalgamated Bank, Levi Strauss, Citigroup, and Salesforce have announced measures to ensure continued employee access to reproductive care. Their steps include paying for travel and related expenses to obtain an abortion, relocating employees to states where these rights are enshrined, and funding organizations that are addressing the abortion access crisis.
We are also working to strengthen our own practices. While most of our employees are in Vermont, a state that has committed to ensuring continued access to reproductive care and abortion, that is not the case in all states, and we want to be certain that staff has equal access no matter where they live. Clean Yield is crafting a policy that will cover employee travel necessary to obtain reproductive or transgender care, cover the costs of abortion and gender-affirming treatments or procedures if insurance fails to do so, and cover legal fees should an employee face charges for helping someone obtain access to abortion or transgender care.
We also are looking for investment opportunities to support reproductive rights and care. The Clean Yield investment committee recently approved investment in a pharmaceutical company focused on providing a portfolio of birth control and fertility options. We are encouraged that the company understands that when we care for women, we are also caring for families and communities.
The challenges posed by the dismantling of Roe are massive, and we know there is so much more work to do to combat these efforts and ensure protections. We will continue to use the tools we have available to push for continued access to reproductive health care. If you are looking for ways to help with these efforts, consider checking out these suggestions from Planned Parenthood or Women’s March. At Clean Yield, we truly believe that every voice matters. If this issue is important to you, we encourage you to join us in standing up for reproductive rights.