Friday’s ruling removing nationwide protection for abortion rights clearly shows the Court’s new 6-3 conservative supermajority is willing to mandate changes on hot-button cultural and social issues that are out of step with national public opinion. This judicial term saw other dramatic effects of the new conservative cohort, which has shown itself to be pro-business and anti-regulation.
High-profile cases this term on abortion, gun rights and religious expression likely precede more such rulings with the capacity to deepen cultural and political divides. Although these issues are rarely central to a company’s business, there may be pressure from employees, customers and government interlocutors to respond.
The Court’s makeup appears stable. Unless a justice retires unexpectedly or dies, companies should expect a deeply conservative majority to hold sway on most cases for years to come.
Chief Justice Roberts appears highly concerned about the Court’s reputation and integrity in its handling of the Dobbs abortion case, as was evident in his appeals to judicial restraint in his concurrence.
President Biden criticized the ruling as extreme and called on Congress to codify protections formerly guaranteed under Roe. The House has passed such legislation, but it failed in the Senate in May. Biden said it is up to voters to elect leaders who will act to protect abortion.
One day earlier, the Court ruled a New York law placed too many limits on the right to carry a concealed handgun, making it harder for states or localities to regulate the practice. The decision comes amid the first significant gun control legislation to come out of Congress in more than two decades.
Twitter conversation Friday erupted in response to the Dobbs decision, with 2.7 million tweets about the decision between 10am ET and 5pm ET alone. Our Research and Insights team dug into Twitter and polling data to find out what companies should be looking out for.
Many users discussed companies speaking out and taking action. They urge more companies to cover abortion care and protect women’s data privacy.
Polling data among voters shows more mixed views on whether companies have a responsibility to engage publicly. Voters are more supportive of companies taking action to support their own employees than companies speaking out and taking a stand on abortion rights.
FGS Global’s research among engaged and news-attentive voters found more support company engagement than push back on it. A company’s silence may generate ill will if called out.
People are most interested in seeing companies help employees relocate, which reflects anxieties about living in a state without abortion access. 31% of registered voters, 42% of voters aged 18-25 and 45% of voters with an advanced degree say a state that bans abortion is less desirable to live in.
Companies across industries have announced their benefits will cover employee travel expenses for abortion to varying extents (or reiterate that they already did), though many acknowledge legal hurdles remain.
Last week, FGS Global was treated to a panel discussion with some of the country’s leading LGBTQ+ advocates: Lambda Legal’s Shedrick (Rick) Davis, American Unity Fund’s Tyler Deaton, Equality North Carolina’s Kendra Johnson and Equality Arizona’s Michael Soto. Moderated by our own Jeff McAndrews, the panel discussed the current state and future outlook of LGBTQ+ rights in the United States.
Their key takeaways:
While much progress has been made, LGBTQ+ Americans are still not fully protected from discrimination in 29 States.
2022 is on track to set a record for the number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures.
We need federal legislation and comprehensive protections for LGBTQ+ people.
Overcoming these hurdles is going to take a bipartisan effort.
What can companies do about it?
Corporations wield the power to pull people together.
Brands need to find some significant ways to tear down the false dichotomy between religion and sexuality constructed by people on both ends of the spectrum. One way to do this is by supporting both LGBTQ+ and faith-based ERGs as well as facilitating more conversations between the two.
Join the effort to advocate for federal protections.
Sign onto amicus briefs and publicize your support. This is a powerful way to promote the issues at hand while signaling support.
Put in work behind the scenes if you’re going to publicly celebrate Pride. In the long run, it’s going to impact the bottom line if you’re not fighting to ensure all of your workforce can thrive.