May 6, 2022
WASHINGTON D.C. – Late Monday night, Politico’s leaked early draft of the Supreme Court’s vote to potentially overturn Roe v. Wade sent shock waves across the nation. Some corporations like Starbucks and Lyft rushed to make public statements on the matter while other major businesses such as Disney and Walmart have been largely silent.
Amazon announced, in response to the leaked document, that it will pay employees up to $4,000 annually to travel for out-of-state abortions. Since Amazon is the second-largest U.S. private employer, their decision to fund abortion travel has sparked debate. Yelp, Uber, and Citigroup also promised to help their staff bypass newly established pro-life legislation in Republican states by covering abortion travel expenses. These corporate decisions have been met with strong disapproval from conservative employees and consumers.
Last month, dozens of House Republicans demanded the chamber drop Citigroup as their credit card provider. All 435 members of the House are issued Citibank credit cards to cover travel expenses, office supplies, and other goods as part of the company’s exclusive partnership with Congress. However, after the banking corporation committed to covering workers’ abortion-related costs, many conservative legislators no longer want to be associated with Citibank.
Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.) along with 44 Republican colleagues wrote a letter to the House’s chief administrative officer, who oversees logistics such as the issuing of credit cards. “By choosing to underwrite travel to abortions for its employees, Citi has explicitly staked out its position to advance the liberal agenda of abortion on demand and has shown no regard for whether a particular state’s laws are in place to protect the safety of a woman and her child,” wrote GOP lawmakers.
Another divisive social issue that is putting corporations at odds with consumers is the LGBT agenda.
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) feuded with Disney over recent legislation that limits conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in K-3 classrooms. Although Disney is one of the state’s major economic contributors, DeSantis responded to the conflict by signing a bill stripping the theme park’s long-standing special tax privileges.
Corporations that take bold political stances are engaging in risky business. A recent poll by Rasmussen revealed that 59 percent of Americans believe that when companies make political statements, it “adds to the divisiveness in the country”. Over half of the poll’s self-identified Democrats agreed. Another similar poll found that 66 percent of Americans thought businesses should not be taking political positions. Eight percent believed it is better for corporations to weigh in on topics related to their businesses.
In these polarized times, there is not only fierce debate over social issues but also what position corporations should take on the matters. Everyday transactions such as ordering something off Amazon or using a credit card are no longer just simple purchases; they are becoming acts of political alliance. Many consumers are increasingly conscious of whether they are spending their hard-earned money in businesses that align with their values and political opinions.
Whether or not corporations should take political stances is up for debate, however, the DeSantis-Disney squabble has kept the theme park from commenting on the leaked opinion in Dobbs. It is possible that pressure like this from lawmakers could keep more businesses out of politics.