The Supreme Court handed down a decision on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout the United States. For non-health care businesses, this shouldn't affect your daily operations, but people are talking, and their focus may be somewhere other than work.
For HR departments, you may want to act immediately--one way or another. Unless your job is politically based, keep in mind what is outside your scope of practice. Here are three things to consider.
Not everyone agrees with you
You may have strong feelings regarding the Dobbs decision. It may be something you dreaded or something you hoped for. But regardless of where you stand, not all your employees agree with you.
When someone leaked a draft of the Dobbs decision in May, NPR ran a poll and found the following:
- 64 percent of people opposed overturning Roe
- 33 percent of people supported overturning Roe
- 3 percent were unsure
This means that chances are, someone in your company--and probably many people--disagree with whatever your position is.
You need your employees to know you approach things with an open mind
After reading a discussion among HR people where people took very strong sides, calling people who disagreed with them names, a person emailed me their thoughts:
Well, I've learned from reading comments at [redacted] to never go to HR with my problems. They are not willing to see my side.
This is the last thing you want employees to think about you. If they know you've made up your mind before they walk in the door, why would they come to you with concerns about anything? You must demonstrate that you are always willing to listen to all sides of an issue. Attacking people who disagree with you is never appropriate behavior.
You need to ensure employee safety
Protests against the Dobbs decision have already begun. There have already been attacks after the decision leak. Police are preparing for the worst, and some buildings are boarding up in preparation for protests. If protestors are likely to be in your area, your responsibility to your employees comes first. Make sure they have safe passage home. Close early if necessary or hire security.
Let your employees know that if they wish to protest they should not wear company attire. The last thing you want is a video of someone in your company-branded shirt behaving badly. You hope that your employees would behave peacefully, but it's best to have them act in their own name and not in the company name.
Emotions run high, and people look to the HR department for help and support. Make sure you can do that for all employees.