Tech companies embark on Texas abortion policy

First came the statements from breeding organizations. Then came the tech companies.

The day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling not to block a law in Texas banning most six-week abortions, Dallas-based Match Group, owner of Tinder, OkCupid and Hinge, sent a note to his employees. “The company usually does not take a political position unless it is relevant to our company”, CEO Shar Dubey wrote. “But in this case, personally, as a woman in Texas, I couldn’t be silent.” The company has set up a fund to cover the travel costs of employees seeking care outside of Texas. Bumble, headquartered in Austin, has created a similar fund.

Senate Bill 8, which came into effect last week, allows individuals to sue anyone who “helps and encourages” an abortion, including providers, counselors or even carpool drivers providing transportation to a clinic. . Uber and Lyft, which are based in California, said they would cover legal fees for drivers involved in the law. “This law is inconsistent with basic human privacy rights, our community guidelines, the spirit of carpooling and our values ​​as a business,” Lyft wrote in a statement to drivers. The company also announced that it will donate $ 1 million to Planned Parenthood.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact of this law on our employees in the state,” wrote Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp, which has an office in Dallas. Stoppelman had already signed a open letter 2019 calling abortion bans “bad for business,” as well as CEOs of Twitter, Slack, Postmates and Zoom.

Such openings have become more common in recent years, especially among leading tech companies. Businesses in 2021 are required to have a point of view, it seems, and have used their platforms to advocate for policies on immigration, gay rights and climate change. Last summer, following the Black Lives Matter protests, almost all major tech companies issued a statement denouncing racism and pledging to support anti-racist work. “To be silent is to be an accomplice”, the official Netflix account tweeted. (Speaking out did not protect companies from critical their own files, in particular on diversity and inclusion.)

You could say that corporate opinions have become the norm, at least among a certain type of business. Companies that have been silent on SB 8, including a number of large Texas employers, have been critical for not having taken a stand. Hewlett-Packard, which moved its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Houston last year, encouraged employees “to engage in the political process where they live and work and to make their voices heard through the advocacy and the voting booth ”. The right to abortion has become one of the most controversial issues in the United States: six in ten Americans say it should be legal in all or most cases, according to one recent Pew poll; almost 4 in 10 think the opposite.

Few major companies have praised the Texas law, which is one of the most restrictive in the country. (Thursday, the Ministry of Justice Texas sued to stop it.) When the head of Georgia-based video game company Tripwire Interactive tweeted in support of the Supreme Court ruling, it has been criticized by thousands of people online, including some of its own employees. He soon resigned from his role; the company issued a statement apologizing and pledging to foster “a more positive environment”.

For a technology company, a strong position on social issues can be an extension of its brand, or even a recruitment tool. A LinkedIn investigation, as of 2018, found that the majority of people would accept a pay cut to work in a place consistent with their values.

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