How corporate leaders should address Roe v. Wade, according to experts
Corporate executives 'have few options as their organizations and their clients are watching their responses'
Corporations have largely remained silent since the leak of a draft opinion suggesting that the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The potential loss of what's been a constitutional right for nearly half a century has divided the country and created an uproar nationwide. However, major companies, with some exceptions, have yet to issue any statements on the matter. In some cases, major institutions have even declined comment.
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During times of crisis and change, corporate executives face the most important tests of their skills as thoughtful, influential leaders," Simon Associates Management Consultants CEO Andi Simon told FOX Business.
However, "facing the impending challenge of Roe v. Wade, they have few options, as their organizations and their clients are watching their responses," Simon added.
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One way for leaders to handle the controversy would be "to bring their organizations together to discuss their positions and enable employees to find respectful ways to differ in how they view a woman's freedom to decide about abortion rights," Simon said.
By contrast, "corporate leaders can declare their organization's position and — as some companies are doing — support women seeking abortions," she added.
They also have a third option, she noted: Do nothing.
Simon cautioned, though, that either action "has meaning" and will have "implications for their internal and external stakeholders."
Similarly, Summit Capital Consulting CEO Warren Rustand told FOX Business that, first and foremost, company leaders "have an obligation to do what is in the best interests of all stakeholders."
However, Rustand said it's important "not to overreact before all information is available." This means not reacting to rumor, innuendo, conspiracy theories or emotion, he added.
It's best for corporate leaders to "suspend judgement until the court rules on the issue" so that they can understand the full scope of the situation, Rustand reasoned.
Then, when responding to the issue, "the leader should be a voice of calm and reason," he added.
However, it's okay for leaders to be "humble and vulnerable" too, Simon said.
In this situation, Simon said, they can turn to their employees and say, "I don't have all the answers, but let's talk about it together. I need to hear what you have to say and help you rebuild the comfort you need to confront these changes'."
Rustand suggested leaders should make information available about Roe v. Wade "so that one has a foundation of knowledge." They should also bring in outside legal counsel to meet with employees, families, shareholders and vendors, he added.
Once the ruling is issued, leaders should consider bringing in an outside legal expert to meet with interested parties to explain the ruling and its implications, Rustand said.
He also suggested bringing in medical and legal advisors for "individuals who may want to have a confidential discussion for their own situation."
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No matter the approach, Simon said it's time for leaders to "develop better solutions for dealing with upheavals, challenges and change" and to engage employees and customers in dialogue.