The intersection of ESG and reproductive rights

know about The intersection of ESG and reproductive rights

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The US Supreme Court’s decision to set aside the constitutional right to abortion has sparked a global debate about the role and value of reproductive rights, and the role of corporations in a post-Roe v climate. . Wade.

To explore the implications for corporate sustainability teams and ESG strategists, I spoke with Suzanne Biegel, founder of consultancy Catalyst at Large and a world leader in “gender-smart” investments that supports initiatives and projects aimed at promoting equality. of genre.

As a columnist for GreenBiz, Biegel explores the link between gender issues and the world’s ability to address climate change. I spoke with her about the impact of climate change on maternal health, where companies can go for resources, and the link between reproductive rights and labor issues.

Heather Clancy: What are the climate implications of limiting reproductive rights?

Susan Biegel: There is less access to health care in general when there are extreme weather conditions and hot conditions. And that’s a piece. So that’s a direct implication. …

So of course the business connection is that if there are women who are vulnerable during pregnancy and childbirth, then their ability to work and be part of a productive workforce is going to be affected. No doubt about that. And if people don’t have access to reproductive health services in general, that will affect their ability to work. If we want women to work and lead, work in good green jobs and lead climate-smart companies and climate-smart investment funds and things like that, we just need to pay attention to what the reproductive health implications are. Workforce participation is kind of the biggest involvement from a business standpoint.

Clancy: Where do reproductive rights intersect with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? How is this area affected there as well?

diver’s disease: We know, of course, about SDG 5. That is gender equality and very specifically we are talking about access to health [rights], the safe capacity to live. That’s in SDG 5 for women and girls.

SDG 3 — “Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for people of all ages” — speaks directly to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health, and that includes family planning, informational education, access to services. So that’s clear.

And then, because lack of access to sexual and reproductive health information and services disproportionately affects people in poverty, low-income people, and people of color… who are in poverty, you have SDG 10, which is “Reduce inequalities”. And so we just know that the burden of lack of access will fall unequally on women and people of color in low-income communities. No doubt.

I think in general, from an ESG point of view, we should all be aware of corporate political lobbying, but on this specific issue, that’s one place you can look.

And then the connection with poverty, SDG 2, when people are not in control of when and how many children they choose to have, that places an economic burden especially on women. And so, [for] especially women, single heads of households, you’re going to have a magnifying effect. So it’s really connected to four of the SDGs.

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Clancy: Going back to the business world, how might reproductive rights affect a company’s ESG strategy? Let’s make this real for the corporation.

diver’s disease: So according to some really excellent work by Rhia Ventures [a U.S. nonprofit focused on sexual, reproductive and maternal health] and of Social Capital Adasina and a number of others, we have a good list. So considering access to family planning education as well as health coverage in company insurance plans, that’s absolutely number 1. So do people have access? Do they have access to paid vacations and [well child] coverage for family planning purposes as they have access to paid leave and… coverage for some other health issues? Is that explicit? And we’re talking about access to abortion, specifically.

You may also be thinking of employees in supply chains. If you think about direct employment from a company, that’s one part, but another part is that you’re a big multinational and you have supply chains. There are companies that have done a very good job of making sure there is education and access to services from a family planning standpoint.

So you get to something that people don’t think much about, which is the political lobbying side. This, I think, has been exposed in recent weeks, that [a company] they can come out and say that they are absolutely willing to cover access to travel and time away from abortion services if they need to go to another state, for example, in the United States, but… their political lobbying can be completely up to them. favor of measures against abortion and family planning. So you really have to look at the company’s political lobbying. I think in general, from an ESG point of view, we should all be aware of corporate political lobbying, but on this specific issue, that’s one place you can look.

And then finally [look to] community participation of companies. Are they really supporting health care clinics…are they giving grants or do they have some kind of employee commitment to community clinics or places where people have access to reproductive health? So from a business standpoint, there’s a whole set of things that people can actually do.

Clancy: Are there any programs or initiatives that could help a corporation get this started more quickly or maybe allow more than one company to come together to support this kind of thing?

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diver’s disease: Good question. I haven’t heard of any collective impact projects. What I do know is that people are really taking advantage of each other’s policies and practices. So a good place to find that is at Rhia Ventures. #WhatAreYourReproBenefits Databasebecause that really gives a complete list.

People literally want to know, “What language should we put in our policy and what should we ask for in our health care policy?” I think the good thing about that and this other database that has been created, DontBanEquality.com, [is that it] it really gives people a list of who is participating and willing to be public about it. And then, you can go and see what their policies are. So I think that’s the best thing for companies to do right now.

Clancy: You mentioned political lobbying a moment ago, and we know that this is a political issue, a highly charged political issue in places like the United States. I’m sure other places as well. What strategies can companies use to discuss what they are doing? How can they show their support in a way that doesn’t get highly political?

diver’s disease: There are some people who are really mobilizing shareholder participation on these issues. If you see ComoTuSiembras.orgwhich you are probably familiar with, but also Whistle stop capital It’s been very active, and Rhia Ventures has a team that’s really working on this. I don’t know if they’re hosting conversations, but the lobbying conversation is about all sorts of things, not just reproductive health.

Clancy: That’s fair.

diver’s disease: So interestingly, I don’t know of a group that is like the equivalent of Ceres on climate I don’t know who’s out there on the political lobbying side on things like gun violence or racial equity or access to reproductive health, but I know the first place I would ask would be… Rhia Ventures.

Clancy: To take a closer look at what you do, which is talking about sustainable investing, where can corporations invest to help their communities and in their supply chains, their value chains? Where can they put their money to work to address or provide more access to reproductive rights and reproductive health?

diver’s disease: From a grantmaking standpoint, there are really good lists that have been generated by various foundations. But again, I would go back to Rhia Ventures for her recommendations. From an investment standpoint, there are venture capital funds that are really investing in access, affordability, and affordability of quality reproductive health products and services. And there are some dedicated funds, like Rhia Ventures has a venture fund, and then there are some funds that just list access to family planning as an area of ​​femtech that they’re investing in.

I think the key is to look for them: they tend to have a gender lens, funds that have an explicit gender lens but also have a femtech, health tech or health and life sciences angle. Look at those funds and see what they are investing in. There are some really exciting innovations happening. Access to being able to get birth control online without it being really easy and accessible for people, because having to go get a prescription (go to the doctor, get a prescription, etc.) is difficult. This is part of the innovations we have seen in recent years…

I think the most important thing is that if you limit reproductive rights, it will have an impact on labor participation. It is a human rights issue.

I am an investor in a company in Africa called kasha, which provides access and affordability through e-commerce to reproductive health products and services, as well as… women’s health care. They have a three-part model; one of them is direct to consumer, one of them is working with small stores: they send products and services, products to small stores. They also do a lot of education. And then they have a relationship with manufacturers that are looking to bring their products and services to market in hard-to-reach places, and they’re in Kenya and Rwanda. And I think we’re going to see a lot more of this continue to grow.

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Clancy: Is there anything else we should end this conversation with?

diver’s disease: I think the most important thing is that if you limit reproductive rights, it will have an impact on labor participation. It is a human rights issue. So if a company really sees itself as a responsible business… we want to support people and the planet. If you’re really serious from a business standpoint, it’s a labor market issue, and if you think about the long-term implications, if we don’t address this now, then all those unwanted pregnancies are going to be a burden. from an economic point of view that will not only be in the US but all over the world. Because of the global repercussions, where many more people may not have access to education, they may not have access to economic opportunity because families just can’t handle…having more children than they were really planning on.

From a longer-term perspective, I think from an economic and social stability standpoint, we really need to have access to affordable, quality, accessible reproductive health services. And any company that sees itself as a responsible citizen really needs to think about this.

And I do believe that young people are making decisions about the companies they are going to work for. I think this is going to be a topic where people are going to start saying, “I really want to know which side of being a part of a sustainable planet is this business where I could go work, shop, or do business.” in.”