Abortion benefits make their way into the boardroom post-Roe
The board’s post-Roe conundrum. Years ago, if you had told a corporate director that access to abortion would become a governance issue, they might have laughed you out of the boardroom.
Not only did Roe v. Wade’s reversal once seem unlikely, but corporate directors used to have narrowly defined jobs. They hired the right CEOs, fired the wayward ones, and reviewed a company’s finances on behalf of investors.
While today’s boards still have a diversity problem, they are more representative of the U.S. workforce, as more companies recognize that their long-term economic health and reputation—core concerns for any board—are linked to their response to environmental and social issues. In other words, the current crisis around abortion access is squarely a board-level problem.
To date, the public conversation about corporate reactions to state abortion bans has centered on CEOs. Little has been said about the influence that boards wield, says Amelia Miazad, a professor at UC Davis School of Law, who specializes in governance and ESG issues. That may be because the board’s role when it comes to environmental, social, and political concerns is evolving and hard to define, she says. “There’s no playbook for this.”
Miazad argues that advocates would do well to pay attention to boards, even as they stumble through the ESG revolution. After all, they’re the corporate power centers charged “with ensuring the viability of the company,” she says. “CEOs come and go.”