Yelp, Other U.S. Firms Take Position On Abortion Rights By Granting Travel Benefits

Yelp, Other U.S. Firms Take Position On Abortion Rights By Granting Travel Benefits
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A small but growing number of businesses, including Yelp Inc, Amazon.com, and Citigroup, are implementing policies to cover the expenses of abortions for American employees who need to go out of state.

Yelp Inc was one of the first companies to offer assistance to employees who might need to go out of state for abortion care, a decision the business claims was made to guarantee that all of its employees have equal access to healthcare.

Yelp, a crowd-sourced portal for ratings of companies such as restaurants and hotels, began offering the healthcare travel benefit to U.S. employees earlier this month.

“I think it comes down to equal access to care. In order to safeguard employees and make sure that they can get the healthcare that they need, no matter what state they live in, we need a benefit like this,” Miriam Warren, Yelp’s Chief Diversity Officer, told Reuters.

While Oklahoma, Texas, and other Republican-led states restrict abortion access, Yelp and Citigroup, Levi Strauss & Co, and Amazon.com Inc promised to pay for employees’ travel to receive abortions. 

Since the disclosure to Politico this week of a Supreme Court draught judgment that would overturn its 1973 decision allowing abortion nationally, some large companies, including Walmart Inc, Target Corp, and Walt Disney Co, have refrained from commenting.

Some may be concerned about a growing trend among Republican-led states to penalize businesses for their social policy positions.

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In retribution for Disney’s objection to a new state law that limits the teaching of LGBTQ matters in schools, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a rising star in the Republican party, signed a bill in April stripping Disney of self-governing authority at its Orlando-area sites.

After Citigroup Inc promised to reimburse travel costs for employees seeking abortions, dozens of House Republicans demanded that the banking giant be dropped as the chamber’s credit card supplier in April.

According to a policy analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, the issue has heightened significance now that 31 states have passed abortion bans this year.

Yelp and other companies seek to gain an advantage in attracting and maintaining talent while also seeming socially responsible to investors by providing funding for employees who may need to go out of state for abortions.

“For companies who care about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging, they can’t sit by and be silent on this issue because it really does impact every aspect of a woman’s life,” said Yelp’s Warren.

However, speaking up on social issues risks alienating customers and employees who disagree with a company’s position. 

“Companies must carefully navigate such issues, so as to avoid offending internal stakeholders as well as the external community,” said Izzy Kushner, president of human resources consultancy H.R. Impact.

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