After a number of US states passed laws severely restricting access to abortions, Citigroup this week said it is providing employees with travel benefits to facilitate access to abortion clinics.
“In response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states in the U.S., beginning in 2022 we provide travel benefits to facilitate access to adequate resources,” Citi (C) said in a letter to shareholders Wednesday as part of its annual proxy statement.
Citi’s new policy covers employees’ expenses when traveling to seek an abortion, including plane tickets and hotels, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The company declined to comment beyond what it published in its proxy.
Several states have recently passed laws that make many abortions illegal.
A Texas law passed in September 2021 states anyone in the United States can bring legal action against people who help pregnant women get abortions. The US Supreme Court in September denied a request from Texas abortion providers to freeze a controversial state abortion law that went into effect last September.
In December, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a Mississippi law that bans abortion 15 weeks into a pregnancy, long before the viability line set by prior precedent. It is considered one of the most important abortion cases in decades and could determine the fate of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide.
And on Monday, the Idaho Legislature gave final approval Monday to a bill that would ban abortion after six weeks and allow the father, sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle of the fetus to bring legal action against the medical professional who performed the abortion.
The Supreme Court is widely expected to uphold the Mississippi law, creating an environment in which a person’s access to the procedure depends on the state they live in. That could effectively restrict abortion access to wealthier people who live in urban areas.
Although many companies have stood in opposition to abortion restrictions, Citi is among the first mega-corporations to add travel expenses to their suite of reproductive health benefits.
CEO Jane Fraser has made a concerted effort to make Citi’s culture more worker-friendly. The company is sticking with hybrid work when most of its Wall Street competitors are committing to a full return to the office. Fraser instituted “Zoom-free Fridays” and urged staff to avoid scheduling calls outside traditional work hours. She pleaded with staff to take their allotted vacation time.
It’s part of Fraser’s attempt to brand Citi as the “bank with a soul.”