The Roe v. Wade decision is top of mind for the public sector, many business leaders— even scientists. The Turnaway Study conducted at the University of California at San Francisco, found that receiving an abortion does not harm the health and well-being of women. In fact, it found that being denied an abortion results in worse financial, health and family outcomes. Another study by JAMA Psychiatry found that women seeking and being denied abortions reported significantly more mental health issues eight days later. They suffered more anxiety, poor self-esteem and low life satisfaction—but similar levels of depression—as women receiving abortions.
Rumblings In The Workplace
In response to the Roe v. Wade ruling, several leading companies like Apple, Citigroup, Netflix and Salesforce are expanding healthcare benefits. “In the workplace, the reversal of Roe is not only an issue impacting the health and well-being of employees at this current moment,” Dr. Wizdom Powell, chief social impact and diversity officer at Headspace, told me, “but it is also a devastating blow to gender equity and inclusivity as equal participation in the workplace isn’t possible without access to reproductive care.”
Job seekers in a new Ladders survey of 370 people in the 100K job market say health benefits at their current employer have not been and/or will not be altered following the Roe v. Wade decision. Ladders CEO Dave Fisch shared the results of their study with me. “Our survey results showed that 73% of current employers will not offer travel expense reimbursement for employees seeking abortion access in other states, and 67% say their companies will not offer paid time off to access abortion care,” he said. “According to our data, 46% of women say they have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace and 59% told us there isn’t a career growth plan in their current role—turning advancement into a struggle rather than a path with logical steps.”
‘We Won’t Go Back’
While most employers remain silent on the Roe decision, men and women across the country are speaking out. One of the loudest and most profound voices against the Roe v. Wade reversal is the electrifying singer/songwriter MILCK. I sat down with her to learn how she unified female artists to curate a new powerful song, “We Won’t Go Back,” which has become the anthem for protests against the attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade. The song—featuring Ani DiFranco, BIIANCO and Autumn Rowe—is so heartfelt that it might give you goosebumps if you listen to the audio version on YouTube here or watch the music video of the song released on August 18th here.
MILCK told me the powerful story of how the song was born and became a resounding anthem, stemming from the march at the Supreme Court the day after the Politico leak of the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade. “Hillary Clinton’s organization, Vital Voices, was opening the Global Embassy for Women, and they invited me to sing to celebrate the opening,” she said. “”I went to the Supreme Court to be with the hundreds of people gathered in protest, and that’s how this song was birthed. I was filming the protest and the crowd was chanting, ‘We won’t go back,’ and it leapt out at me. I realized this could be a song. I put it into my recording software, tapped out the tempo and realized the chant was 120 beats per minute—musicians consider this the perfect tempo for the pace of walking—an ideal foundation for people marching for what they believe in!”
That night, MILCK took the audio she’d recorded from the protests and created a sample that would soon become an urgent anthem, which she would share on social media, offering the audio to her community with the intention that others will contribute their voices and stories. “Community is the cure for most problems, and this song was no exception,” the songwriter said. “BIIANCO jumped on as lead producer and co-writer. My instagram follower @malmooge contributed lyrics. Autumn Rowe lent her vocals, and Ani DiFranco added a whole layer of ‘badassery’ with her vocals and guitar.” This is a full-circle moment for MILCK, who five years ago became known around the globe for the viral performance of her song “Quiet” during the Women’s March. “Quiet” became the unofficial anthem of the movement, was named Billboard’s No.1 Protest Song and was selected forNPR’s American Anthem Series.
What Employers Can Do
Dave Fisch of Ladders shared with me his sage advice for employers. “As retention issues persist across industries and unemployment remains at 3.6%, business leaders who offer their employees the support and benefits they need to feel valued are likely to benefit competitively,” he said. “Increasing retention by offering more flexibility is still salient advice. Having said that, a slowing economy and potentially looming recession could be causing companies to respond by slowing their decision-making, as they try to discern what the future will look like.” Fisch explained that his company empowers women to grow in their careers by offering expert resources and advice that support a continuing need for real talent and dedication across industries but acknowledges that a great deal remains to be done.
According to Powell at Headspace, business leaders should not expect employees to show up in a business as usual frame of mind during these times. “Beyond providing equitable access to family reproductive health care through benefits programs and policies, employers should provide safe spaces for dialogue to those who crave community and encourage managers to reach out to their teams to check in,” she told me. “Remind employees of the mental health resources that are available to them and proactively encourage them to seek support.”
MILCK said when she was hearing that people were feeling helpless and numb, the best way she could contribute as an artist was to give them a sense of safe and curated agency. Influenced by Maxine Hong Kingston’s famous quote, “In times of destruction, create something” MILCK says this song is about not going back and going into the future and has taken on a whole life of its own. “The bigger conversation is that the song is about bodily autonomy and connects with the Black Lives Matter movement—black bodies being safe with our police forces,” she concluded. “It matters for gun control because our students’ bodies are at risk. It all folds back into the Roe v. Wade decision regarding bodily autonomy. It’s all interconnected.”
MILCK will sing and speak at the international live webinar, Resiliency 2022, on September 9, 2022. You can go HERE to register for free.