Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, companies in states that now prohibit abortion have contemplated whether to provide travel support for employees to receive abortion services in states that allow it.
In June and July, recruiting analytics firm Veris Insights in Washington, D.C., conducted a string of surveys that identified how certain demographics of job candidates feel about employers offering travel assistance for abortions.
Among survey respondents who viewed employer-provided abortion travel benefits as “very important” or “essential”:
- 55 percent were people with disabilities.
- 52 percent were LGBTQ.
- 46 percent were Hispanic/Latino.
- 42 percent were Black.
- 40 percent were millennials.
- 38 percent were parents.
- 37 percent were white.
Most job candidates consider abortion travel benefits to be at least “moderately important” when considering a potential employer, the research showed. Overall, 40 percent consider this type of support to be “very important” or “essential.”
“[Valuing travel benefits for abortions] is consistent across demographic segments,” said Andrew Monroe, director of experienced recruiting research at Veris Insights. “Matters relating to employee health and the cost of medical treatment have a direct impact on how job candidates evaluate potential employers.”
How Young People View Travel Benefits
After the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, candidates who were 25 or younger went from being the second-least-concerned generation to the most-concerned, nearly doubling ratings of travel assistance for abortion as “very important” or “essential” when considering a potential employer, per the report.
Dimitri Shelest, CEO and founder of technology company OneRep in McLean, Va., is unsurprised that younger employees would value such support from their employers.
“Even before the recent abortion-related legal developments in the U.S., we were seeing employers rethink which benefits bring the most value to the evolving workplace,” Shelest said. “It’s no secret that younger candidates look for value alignment when it comes to the companies they work for.”
He noted that young workers want to be valued as individuals, not just laborers. Companies are recognizing this and offering benefits that cater to the whole person.
“For us, this has led to a significant uptick in demand for our privacy protection service the past two years,” Shelest said. “Similarly, offering employer-provided travel assistance may be viewed as caring for the individual and a natural extension of existing health care benefits the employer already offers.”
Lack of Access for People with Disabilities
The Veris Insights report indicated that more than half of people with disabilities favor employer-provided abortion travel benefits. This finding exemplifies the community’s long-standing desire for bodily autonomy, according to Ariel A. Simms, president and CEO of disability advocacy company RespectAbility in Rockville, Md.
“Workers with disabilities, and the disability community more broadly, understand the deep connection between self-determination and bodily autonomy,” Simms said. “Health care decisions and access to care directly impact our community’s opportunities to earn an income and be independent.”
A 2021 report by the National Partnership for Women and Families stated that the reproductive-rights movement has not always emphasized the specific needs or challenges of people with disabilities. The movement also hasn’t sufficiently considered how the histories and experiences of those with disabilities add nuance and complexity to the issues of reproductive health and choice.
The National Partnership report also noted that individuals with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty as are people without disabilities. Consequently, they often cannot afford the cost of travel for abortion procedures.
A Competitive Advantage
Employers that provide travel assistance and other forms of abortion coverage have a competitive advantage in attracting talent, particularly among younger workers, Monroe explained.
“A substantial fraction of the U.S. talent market indicate that they would not consider working for an employer that does not provide benefits of this type,” he said.
A recent report cited by the Society for Human Resource Management projected that the number of U.S. employers offering travel benefits for abortion services is likely to double over the next few years.
Organizations such as Starbucks, Tesla, Yelp, Airbnb, Microsoft, Netflix, DoorDash, Amazon, Walt Disney Co., Meta and DICK’S Sporting Goods announced that they’d cover some of the travel costs for employees seeking abortions in states where the procedure is legal, according to a report by The New York Times.
Companies that create an inclusive culture that shows they care for the health and well-being of their workforce are going to attract more qualified job candidates and give themselves a competitive edge over the competition, Simms said.
“Practices like these also inform potential customers about a company’s values, which influences the spending habits of savvy consumers, including disabled consumers and their supporters,” she said. “Companies that offer travel assistance for accessing health care procedures are making a statement about how they value the lives, opportunities and autonomy of their workers.”