[Issue 092] The A word: Companies are stepping into unchartered territory


As I've mentioned in a previous issue of the newsletter, I serve on the Board of Directors for the Northern California affiliate of Planned Parenthood. I'm a passionate advocate for reproductive rights. 

I am pro-choice.

I believe that abortion is health care, and health care is a human right. 

You don't have to agree with me on this issue. It's quite alright if you don't. However, I strongly believe that the only people who should be making decisions about reproductive rights are the ones who physically bear the burden of the consequences. 


I'm sure many of you have been following the wave of state bans on abortion access. Dr. Leana Wen, the President of Planned Parenthood, has even declared a State of Emergency in Missouri and Across the Country.


If you read nothing else, dig into this New York Times interactive piece on the nine states that have passed abortion bans this year.

While the intensity of these attempts are increasing, the attacks aren't new. What IS new, however, is the way CEOs and corporations are both voluntarily and involuntarily joining the debate.

As Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist for Weber Shandwick, recently said

When it comes to issues that employees or Americans think CEOs or companies should speak up on, abortion is always at the bottom — it’s almost like gun control used to be.”

The data is striking.

A 2016 survey showed that Americans are more comfortable with corporate activism when it comes to economic issues, not so much social issues. When asked which specific issues were appropriate, abortion was LITERALLY at the bottom of the list. 

[Source:   HBR  ]

[Source: HBR]


But times are certainly changing.

Last week, Netflix became the first major Hollywood studio (and large corporation, from what I've read so far) to jump into the conversation stating, "We’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia" if the state's restrictive abortion law goes into effect. Disney spoke up shortly after, then came WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, AMC, CBS, Sony and Viacom.

This matters.

In 2017 Hollywood brought in $2.7 billion dollars of revenue into Georgia and is responsible for an estimated 92,000 jobs. Another fun fact I had no idea: More top-grossing films were produced in Georgia in 2017 than in any other state.

On the flip side, we have the companies that have been called out for "financing the war on women in six states" through their contributions to political leaders most responsible for restrictive abortion legislation (despite presenting themselves as corporate champions of women and gender equality).

The list of companies:

  • AT&T contributed $196,600 across six states

  • Walmart donated $57,700 across six states

  • Pfizer gave $53,650 across six states

  • Eli Lilly contributed $66,250 across five states

  • Coca-Cola gave $40,800 across five states

  • Aetna donated $26,600 across four states


If you're interested in campaign financing, I strongly suggest taking a look at how the journalist, Judd Legum, conducted his research.

And if you're wondering what YOU can do about any of this, here are some ideas:

  1. Spread the wordAbortion is still legal in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, and everywhere else until newly enacted bans and limits become effective, allowing for legal challenges.

  2. Donate: National organizations fighting the bans, like Planned Parenthood and ACLU, are being flooded with donations. That's incredible and let's keep it up, but let's also not forget to support local grassroots organizations. Teen Vogue has put together this excellent list of orgs to support, including many that are run by women of color.

  3. Advocate: If you work for a company with a presence in any of these states, email your leadership asking them to speak up.




When you need to laugh to keep from crying...

NOTE:  This should actually say *cis-gendered men.

NOTE: This should actually say *cis-gendered men.



JPMorgan Chase Settles $5M Parental Leave Case, Commits To Gender Neutrality But Not Equality. The company will be paying $5 million in a class action lawsuit filed by employee Derek Rotondo, who was denied the 16-week paid leave that is granted to "primary parents." The company claimed men who are biologically fathers are "presumptively not the primary caregiver" and are given the non-primary parent leave of two weeks. // FORBES

Reports: Justice Dept. Preparing Antitrust Probe of Google. The U.S. Justice Department is beginning their investigation into Google's business practices to see if they violate antitrust laws. Google has faced scrutiny is the past for barring websites from selling ads alongside Google-served ads. // APNEWS 

Nike Backlash: Brands Must Do Better - Not Just Say Better. After it was revealed that Nike would cut the pay of pregnant athletes, Becky Willan, who writes for Triple Pundit, discusses how Nike's action counter-acts their own brand "purpose". She uses Nike's latest ad campaign as an example, which featured Serena Williams and the phrase "dream crazier," which goes against their mistreatment of their pregnant athletes. She goes on to explain how purpose is incredibly important for branding, but it needs to be actionable and create measurable and scalable change, not just used as an advertising platform. // TRIPLE PUNDIT

The UK Now Has More EV Charging Locations Than Gas Stations. Various reports have concluded that the UK now has more electric vehicle charging stations than gas stations. In recent years there has been a realization that diesel-powered cars are not as environmentally friendly as they had been made out to be. Despite the unquestionable fuel efficiency of diesel engines, carcinogenic particulates from them have diminished air quality in urban environments throughout Europe. // TRIPLE PUNDIT

#KuToo: Japanese Women Submit Anti-High Heels Petition. KuToo is a movement aimed at ending the de facto requirement for female staff to wear high heels at their place of work in Japan. They have recently submitted a petition to the government to protest it, but are also working on loosening dress codes at work for women and men alike. The hashtag, #KuToo, comes from a play on words in Japanese, Kutsu means shoes, and Kutsuu means pain. // THE GUARDIAN

U.S. Judge Waves Through D.C. Case Against Facebook. For an update on Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal, a U.S. Judge has denied Facebook's request to dismiss the lawsuit over the company's sharing of 87 million users' data with the British company. Facebook may be liable for a settlement on each user's data that was shared. // REUTERS

How These All-American Blue Jeans Are Going Green. In traditional jean dying, indigo dye is used on yarn in a huge vat of water, which creates a lot of water and dye waste. Wrangler has recently started using a different manufacturing technique, which uses foam to disperse the dye with 99% less water and is more streamlined. The technique was developed at Texas Tech. // FAST COMPANY

This week's headlines were curated by ABL's intern, Lora.


“This is not a moment to sit back—it’s a moment to stand up and fight however we can.”

Dr. Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood President


Nikita T. Mitchell