A Response to the Dobbs Decision from the women of the renewable energy industry
Below is a statement to the Renewable Energy Industry from those impacted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. KWIRE is hosting this response, but it was drafted by a coalition of women from across the industry, broader than KWIRE.
The Overturning of Roe v. Wade:
A letter to Renewable Energy companies – show up for the employees who consistently show up for you.
*Throughout the below, we use the term “women” to refer to the impacted group. However, we acknowledge that this is not solely a women’s issue, and impacts the broader population of individuals who may become pregnant, including transgender and nonbinary communities.
On June 24th, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization rescinded the fundamental right of a pregnant person to make health-related decisions, including the rights to decide whether they are ready to carry and give birth to a child, and to access life-saving care. Going forward, state governments can make individual choices for women and their families. As stated by the dissenting minority in the Dobbs decision, "when it comes to rights, the Court does not act ‘neutrally’ when it leaves everything up to the States." As an industry, we should not be neutral in our response.
The impacts of the Court’s decision are far-reaching and devastating. It will deny the rights of women and girls who did not choose to become pregnant and do not have the resources to care for a child. Every pregnant employee who is required to travel for work must now make a decision about whether to prioritize their health or their career should they need to travel to a state that restricts access to abortion care. And, as well-documented by advocates and experts, this decision will disproportionately impact marginalized, underrepresented, and underserved populations.
In the absence of federal protection and with state-level restrictions on access to pregnancy-related care, corporations must decide how to respond to Dobbs. Let us be clear that this is not a question of politics, but of health, safety, and fundamental human rights.
The renewable energy industry has pushed boundaries since its inception. We are progressive change-makers, working tirelessly to make our country and the world more resilient, sustainable, and conscientious. We are an industry of innovators, increasingly attracting the attention of the nation, lawmakers, capital providers, and people across the workforce as they decide where they want to start and build their careers. We aspire to leave the world a better place for future generations. We must set the example for our industry, and for other industries, to show up and do what is right.
The women of this industry have come together to implore you to act. In this letter, we recommend a set of best practices for employers to implement. We ask you to show up for your employees, to show up for your communities, and to lead. The women and allies of this industry will vote with their feet; we seek to work for companies who respect our bodily autonomy in a way that the highest court in this country has not. Companies have the power to invoke change in this country. We will not settle for silence as we fight.
It is in this spirit that we ask you take the following actions:
Proposed Immediate Action:
Written benefits clarification - All companies should clarify for their employees whether their existing insurance plans cover travel expenses for out of state medical care, and whether that policy would cover abortion care.
Proposed Best Practices – Top Priorities:
Coverage of travel expenses for employees seeking abortion care - It is critical that this benefit is offered while protecting employee privacy – employees must not be required to disclose to their employer that they are seeking or have sought abortion care. If travel coverage cannot be handled through insurance or a third party, employers should provide sufficient funds to an employee HSA/FSA that will provide financial support for out of state medical care in a format that does not require employees to disclose that they have sought or are seeking abortion care.
Support for employees facing repercussions - Employers should proactively state that employees will not face professional repercussions for criminal or civil charges brought for protesting in favor of reproductive justice or for seeking abortion care.
Consideration of Political and Economic Contributions - Employers are encouraged to consider the stance of politicians and political groups on this issue when making contribution decisions. At a minimum, employers should provide transparency to employees on the politicians and political groups supported, directly or indirectly, by the employer. Additionally, employers may consider holding company-sponsored meetings, retreats, and events in states that do not have restrictions on pregnancy-related care. This ensures that pregnant employees will be able to make medical choices in the event they need care during an event, and directs economic investment to those states that respect women’s bodily autonomy.
Proposed Best Practices – Additional Actions:
Relocation and Engagement Options - Employers should continue to support those who want to fight for abortion care access in their home states, while providing support for those who want to relocate:
Employee volunteer allowance: provide an hourly allotment distinct from PTO for employees to volunteer time to support community access to abortion care.
Relocation Stipend: provide financial support for employees who want or need to permanently relocate to a state that still offers access to abortion care.
Employer match of employee donations - Employers should offer to match employees’ donations to organizations providing access to abortion care.
A portion of every paycheck can be donated to a charity of the employee’s choice
Alternatively, employers may offer to match donations not made through employee paychecks
Legal Fee Coverage - Employers should provide coverage for legal fees incurred in seeking abortion care or in addressing repercussions for seeking abortion care.
We are an industry of leaders working to change the energy landscape of this country. Leadership is rarely easy, but neither is the work we all do every day. Employers: protect the rights of the people who work for you. Stand with us and lead.