A Meta executive told employees on Thursday they are prohibited from discussing abortion on Workplace, an internal version of Facebook, citing “an increased risk” that the company may be perceived as a “hostile work environment.”
The policy, which Meta introduced in 2019 but has not yet reported, prohibits employees from expressing “opinions or debates about abortion, the availability or right of abortion, and political, religious and humanitarian views on the subject,” according to a section. of the company’s internal “Respectful Communication Policy” as seen by The edge† Some employees have called on management to abolish the policy in the wake of a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would be quashed. Roe v. Wadearguing that the ban is at odds with workers being allowed to talk “respectfully” about things like Black Lives Matter, immigration and trans rights.
At an employee meeting Thursday, Meta’s VP of HR, Janelle Gale, said abortion was “the most divisive and reported topic” by employees at Workplace. She said that “even if people are respectful, and they try to be respectful about their views on abortion, it can still make people feel like they’re being targeted based on their gender or religion,” according to a recording of her. comments obtained by The edge† “It’s the only unique subject that moves that line on a protected class in almost all cases.”
A spokesperson for Meta had no comment on this story at press time.
Most major companies have yet to make their stance on abortion bans clear, although several have expressed opposition. Amazon and Tesla have said they would cover some costs for pregnant employees who have to travel for an abortion, and Salesforce told employees in September it would help with moving costs if they wanted to leave Texas because of the abortion ban. Lyft and Uber have promised to cover the legal bills for drivers charged under state law for driving a person who wants an abortion. One of the strongest stances is that of Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, who stated in an op-ed that “businesses need to take a stance on reproductive rights.”
After Politics Published the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion seeking to overturn abortion rights at the federal level, Meta’s number two executive, Sheryl Sandberg, called abortion “one of our most fundamental rights” on her public Facebook page. “Every woman, wherever she lives, should be free to choose whether and when she becomes a mother,” she wrote. “Few things are more important to women’s health and equality.”
But Meta soon went on to discuss pushing back abortion internally. The day after Sandberg’s public comments, one of Meta’s most senior executives, Naomi Gleit, wrote in an internal post seen by The edge explain why the company had put restrictions on the discussion about abortion. “At work, there are many sensitivities around this topic, which makes it difficult to discuss on Workplace,” Gleit wrote. She said employees were only allowed to discuss abortion at work “with a trusted colleague in a private setting (e.g., live, chat, etc.)” and in a “listening session with a small group of up to 5 like-minded people to show solidarity.” She encouraged employees to use Meta’s social apps to share their personal views, and that the company “will continue to provide our employees with access to reproductive health care in the US, regardless of where they live.”
Policies banning discussion of abortion have caused division among workers in recent weeks, with some supporting it and others sharing their frustration at posts on the topic having been removed, according to screenshots of Workplace posts and comments seen. by means of The edge† During the all-hands meeting led by Sandberg, Gale and other executives on Thursday, several comments about the policy were posted by employees under the live stream and removed as the meeting progressed.
In an internal post earlier this month titled “Support & Silence,” a female employee who has been with the company for 10 years wrote that the policies had led her to feel a “strong sense of silence and isolation in the workplace.” She wrote that an earlier version of her post had been removed and that the new version had “removed a lot of the content”.
“The same policies explicitly allow us to discuss similar sensitive issues and movements, including immigration, trans rights, climate change, Black Lives Matter, gun rights/gun control and vaccination,” she wrote. “The argument why our policy treats an issue very differently from other sensitive issues feels flimsy and unconvincing to me. The whole process of dealing with the respectful communications policy, being told why my post is against the law, and making this new post felt dehumanized and dystopian.”