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What HR Needs to Consider Post-Roe v. Wade

Factors HR must keep in mind following this massive SCOTUS decision

Nikhil Bendre

by Nikhil Bendre - July 22nd, 2022


On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court made huge waves by overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. A move of this caliber obviously has some huge implications, meaning employers need to take some considerations into account in terms of supporting their people. In Post-Roe America, here are some things you should start thinking about so that you can have answers for your team for if/when they start asking the hard questions.

Read HR's Guide to Compliance to learn about more compliance issues.

When partaking in discussions surrounding this topic, remember to keep focus on having a productive conversation. This really isn’t the type of thing where a “middle ground” is easily found, so it’s important to not antagonize anyone and to be as respectful as possible. 

We reached out to some members of our community to get their thoughts on what HR needs to do:

We interviewed an HR leader and here’s what they sent out to their team in regards to the decision:

“While we know that this ruling may be very upsetting to some, we respectfully ask that you give some consideration to the following:

  • Please remember that this topic is highly sensitive and we can not assume that everyone in the organization is of one thought.  Additionally,  there are individuals who wish to keep their beliefs private.  We ask that you remain respectful and aware that a truly diverse and inclusive workplace means that we are kind and respectful of different beliefs, religions, and values.

  • Conversations related to the decision may be highly uncomfortable for some because of their religious or moral beliefs, because of this, we ask that you be mindful of each others’ differences.  If there is a work related discussion around the Supreme Court decision, please be mindful that it should reflect objective observations and thoughts around how this may impact the work that you do.

  • There may be individuals who are personally vested in this matter and want to do more.  If this is you, use your voice and reach out to your local legislators or align with advocacy groups in your area.  The decisions that will be made going forward will reside with your state.

  • Take care of yourself!  If this decision is upsetting to you and you feel like you could use someone to talk to, please remember that mental health resources are available and we encourage you to utilize them if you are feeling overwhelmed.  Insert EAP information here for your organization.

  • As always, our goal from a health and wellness lens is to have the best benefits for employees possible. We will continue to work closely with our benefits broker to understand implications depending on how this unfolds in each state and how that may impact our employees. 

Thank you in advance for your support of our entire team, and our goal of inclusivity and respectfulness in the workplace.

Additional considerations:

If this decision impacts your clients or the work that you do, you should consider how discussions around this will be addressed.  If you choose to facilitate an internal discussion on the matter, we encourage facilitators of these discussion to review the “Tips for Facilitating CivIl Discussions” published by SHRM, shared below: 

  • HR professionals and people managers are responsible for creating and maintaining a civil work environment.

  • Companies should provide guidance on how to have conversations about politics in the workplace and facilitate conversations to ensure they are cordial. Amber Clayton, senior director of HR Knowledge Center operations for SHRM, provided tips for workers to consider when discussing hot-button topics like abortion rights:

  • Commit to having the conversation. Before having a conversation, think through what you want to talk about, why you want to talk about it and the desired outcome.

  • Get into the right mindset. Be sure to check any preconceptions and assumptions at the door, including your own unconscious biases.

  • Begin the conversation by setting the stage. Explain why you are interested in your colleague's views and what the outcomes might be.

  • Listen to understand, not to solve. Ask good questions and process the conversation so that you fully understand your colleague's views and ideas.

  • Support a "we" attitude. Remind yourselves that you are in this together and working toward a shared goal of improving culture at your company.”

They also added:

“Some companies will not make changes to their benefits regardless of each state’s decisions.  Other organizations are taking a stance on this and are changing their benefits.  The decision around this is up to each organization, but your approach to this should be discussed with your senior leadership team, as you should expect questions on this from your employees.”

Furthermore, HR Consultant and Expert, Gemma Toth, SHRM-SCP, CDEI, contributed the following:

“Upper management needs to be educated on what their current insurance covers. Prior to overturning of Roe v Wade, most insurance companies already have reproductive coverage including abortion. Make sure those stay intact as there are still many states that cover that. Be on the lookout for TPAs that can help navigate and manage the need to assist those in states that made this illegal. Provide better leave beyond FMLA and EAP much like those states that still support women the right to choose.”

The consensus is that HR needs to be prepared for the logistics that this decision will imply. Questions about benefits and policy adjustments are practically guaranteed to arise so businesses need to have answers and plans ready to go, such as those dealing with what health benefits are available and potential health-based travel stipends. Difficult conversations may take place, so it’s more important now than ever to emphasize the human aspect of HR. Remember that we’re dealing with people coming from all different backgrounds, situations, and belief systems. Maintain your team’s best interest at the forefront of your plans and remember to support and reassure team members in need.

While any advice on this topic may seem vague, it’s because this topic is extremely sensitive, and there really isn’t one single “right” way to go. That’s why we’d like to reiterate that the key to navigating through this is to support your employees, listen to their concerns, and be respectful, regardless of inevitable differences in beliefs.

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