Report: Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care Essential for Employees and Corporate America’s Bottom Line

Link made clear in interviews with nearly 40 companies - more than half in the Fortune 500 - that aggregately employ 4.5 million U.S. workers
Jan 27, 2020 10:00 AM ET
Press Release

SAN FRANCISCO, January 27, 2020 /3BL Media/ — A groundbreaking new report, Hidden Value: The Business Case for Reproductive Health, released today connects how access to comprehensive reproductive health care impacts a company’s bottom line and the corporate workforce. The research was published by Rhia Ventures, a social impact investment firm focused on innovative solutions in reproductive health, in partnership with the social impacting consulting firm FSG. The findings are undergirded by new research from PerryUndem that surveyed attitudes and opinions of 1,377 college-educated employed Americans aged 18-64 on reproductive health care. 
 
Women’s ability to participate freely and fully in the workforce is essential to the growth, performance and resilience of the U.S. economy and the businesses which comprise it. This participation is contingent upon access to comprehensive reproductive health services, including contraception and abortion. These services are used by nearly all women -- 99 percent have used contraception and 25 percent have had an abortion by age 45. Until today, the link between access to this care and business performance has been under-examined and poorly understood.  
 
“Investing in comprehensive health care access, including reproductive health care, is something companies cannot afford to overlook. Providing these benefits maximizes the talent pool, helps attract and retain workers, builds diverse talent pipelines and can yield significant cost savings when employees have control over when and if they become pregnant,” said Lisa Hammann, co-founder and chief executive officer of Rhia Ventures. “Ultimately, this investment has a positive impact on a company’s bottom line.” 
 
Key findings of the survey include:

  • Most employees say that the ability to control their own reproductive health care decisions has been important to their career path. 
    • A large majority of women (86 percent) in the workforce say the ability to control when and if to become a parent has been important to their career path.
  • Abortion coverage is not controversial among employees. 
    • Eighty-three percent of women ages 18 to 44 say they would want their employers insurance to cover the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion.
  • Most say the political environment of a state is a factor in deciding where to take a new job.
    • Six in ten (61 percent) women would be discouraged from taking a job in a state that has tried to restrict access to abortion. And 54 percent of men ages 18 to 44 say they also would be discouraged from taking a job in a state that has recently tried to restrict abortion access.
    • A majority of women (56 percent) say they would not apply to a job in a state that has recently banned abortion.  

 
Many company representatives interviewed for Hidden Value, including benefit managers, were unaware of the coverage their companies provide for reproductive health. As a result, corporations may be unintentionally limiting some contraceptive options and coverage for abortion. As nearly 30 states across the country already have restrictive reproductive health policies in place, it is more urgent than ever for the business sector to review coverage specifics and take action.  
 
Companies can act by reviewing and revising benefits to better support employees’ experiences and by tracking, monitoring and engaging in relevant policy discussions at the local, state and national level. The report recommends that investors: ask companies about their approach to reproductive health benefits as part of due diligence and to audit their reproductive health policies; encourage third-party ESG (environmental, social and governance) research providers to benchmark corporate performance on reproductive health benefits; and vote in favor of proxy proposals that seek to expand reproductive health benefits. 
 
Hidden Value: The Business Case for Reproductive Health is built on interviews and input from top companies from across the United States. Researchers engaged more than 50 experts in human resources, reproductive health and insurance at 39 companies, including 24 Fortune 500 companies. In aggregate, the companies engaged employ nearly 4.5 million U.S. workers and operate across all 50 states. The PerryUndem research was conducted among 1,000 college-educated employees ages 18 to 64 nationwide. The survey included an oversample of 300 employees who have graduated from college within the past three years. 
 
The following corporate and academic voices provided quotes in support of Hidden Value: The Business Case for Reproductive Health:  
 
“Speaking as a businesswoman and a former mayor, there is no question that women’s access to reproductive health care is an economic and business issue,” said Jan Jones Blackhurst, member of the Caesars Entertainment Corporation board of directors and chief executive in residence at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas International Gaming Institute. “It is a fundamental part of any benefits package and critical no matter where employees live or work.”  
 
“The majority of the world’s largest public companies have made public commitments  to diversity and inclusion, but most have not yet connected access to  comprehensive reproductive health care as an integral part of an equitable workplace. This report is putting forward solutions companies can implement.” said Daisy Auger-Dominguez, founder and president of Auger-Dominguez Ventures, a workplace culture consultancy. 
 
“Business holds significant, untapped potential to contribute to women’s advancement and stands to benefit tremendously by ensuring women are empowered. Access to reproductive healthcare is fundamental to women having the agency they need to shape their future,” said Aron Cramer, president and chief executive officer of BSR.  
 
“The private sector has the opportunity, and responsibility, to effect change where public policy falls short,” said Kiersten Barnet, chair of the steering committee of the U.S. 30% Club. “Ensuring women have access to comprehensive reproductive health benefits isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s a business imperative if companies want to be able to attract, retain and advance the workforce required to be a competitive, sustainable business going forward.” 
 
“The decades since World War II have seen an explosion in women's labor force participation and achievement in the U.S. Their prominence in the American workforce cannot be understated,” said Boone Turchi, associate professor of economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “That they must often manage the dual roles of worker and caregiver makes for a substantial challenge. This report presents a compelling case that American businesses will reap substantial rewards by providing comprehensive support for their workers' reproductive health.” 
 
“Companies across the country are coming under greater scrutiny on a wide range of issues, including reproductive health care. These issues can have an important long-term impact on companies’ bottom lines and shareholder returns,” said financial services industry executive Amanda Hindlian, who has studied and written on gender parity. 
 
"When discussing what blocks women from participation and advancement in the labor force and business ownership, it is vitally important that we take a broader look at how these roadblocks impact our overall economy. For decades, working women have fueled economic growth in the United States, and Hidden Value: The Business Case for Reproductive Health highlights how important the free economic advancement of women is to all Americans," said Margot Dorfman, chief executive officer of the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce. 
 
                                                                                        ### 
 
Rhia Ventures is a social enterprise transforming women's reproductive health. We make equity investments in promising companies that address gaps in the reproductive health market, and we partner with our investor network to ensure that corporations understand that reproductive health care is essential care. www.rhiaventures.org  
 
FSG is a mission-driven consulting firm supporting leaders in creating large-scale, lasting social change. Through customized consulting services, innovative thought leadership, and support for learning communities, we help foundations, businesses, nonprofits, and governments around the world accelerate progress by reimagining social change. Learn more at www.fsg.org.