This year lawmakers have passed some of the most restrictive abortion bans in history, but business leaders aren’t staying silent. Today nearly 200 CEOs—including the CEOs of Glossier, Twitter, Away, and MAC Cosmetics—took out a powerful full-page ad in the New York Times to condemn the bans sweeping the country.
“Equality in the workplace is one of the most important business issues of our time,” the ad reads. “Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence, and economic stability of our employees and customers. Simply put, it goes against our values and is bad for business.” It’s signed by 187 CEOs representing brands including H&M, DVF, Postmates, Birchbox, Yelp, Everlane, Tinder, Outdoor Voices, Bauble Bar, Thinx, Mara Hoffman, and Ouai. “We, the undersigned, represent more than 108,000 workers and stand against policies that hinder people’s health, independence, and ability to fully succeed in the workplace,” the open letter states.
The ad comes just weeks after Alabama governor Kay Ivey signed an abortion ban that reads like something from The Handmaid’s Tale. The new state law prohibits abortion for any reason other than to protect the woman’s health, and criminalizes the procedure, meaning any woman who seeks or any doctor who performs an abortion could face prison time. Lawmakers refused to make exceptions even in cases of rape and incest.
This isn’t the first time business leaders have fought back. After Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp signed a bill that prohibits abortions after six weeks (before most women even know they’re pregnant), Netflix stated that it would reconsider filming in Georgia. “We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement to Glamour. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there—while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
On Twitter, people are sharing their support for the companies behind the ad:
The message from the business world is about more than just a single ad or a few social media posts. “It’s not enough to fire off an angry tweet,” says Patrick Godfrey, co-CEO of Godfrey Dadich Partners, a creative firm based in San Francisco, who signed the letter. Following the letter, the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the Center for Reproductive Rights announced the launch of DontBanEquality.com, a site where people can learn more about how business leaders are standing up for reproductive rights and how CEOs can add their names to the list. “Extreme abortion bans are not only appalling, they’re completely out of touch with public sentiment,” says Godfrey. “We see this as an opportunity to turn growing rage into public action. Signing on to support equality and the ability for women to control their own bodies is the least we can do as leaders, and as friends and colleagues.”