Salesforce offers to help staff leave Texas as abortion law takes effect

Software company sends message to workforce addressing access to reproductive healthcare

The cloud-based software giant Salesforce is offering to help relocate employees out of Texas following the state’s enactment of its extreme new abortion law.

Referring to the “incredibly personal issues” that the law creates, a message to the company’s entire workforce sent late on Friday said any employee and their family wishing to move elsewhere would receive assistance.

“Ohana if you want to move we’ll help you exit TX. Your choice,” the Salesforce chief executive, Marc Benioff, said in a tweet featuring a CNBC article about the offer, and using a term common in Hawaii for “family”.

In a separate message to workers, Salesforce, which is headquartered in California, did not directly mention Texas – where about 2,000 of its 56,000 global workers are based – or take a stance on the law. But its intention was clear.

“These are incredibly personal issues that directly impact many of us – especially women,” it said.

“We recognize and respect that we all have deeply held and different perspectives. As a company, we stand with all of our women at Salesforce and everywhere. If you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family.”

The company’s offer appears to be part of a growing corporate backlash against the Texas law, which took effect on 1 September when the US supreme court refused to block it.

On Thursday, the US attorney general, Merrick Garland, announced that the justice department was suing Texas over the “unconstitutional” law that bans abortions after the detection of embryonic cardiac activity, at around six weeks, and allows private citizens to pursue legal action against anybody who assists a woman in getting an abortion.

The ride-share companies Lyft and Uber have both said they will pay the legal costs of any drivers sued for transporting women to or from procedures. Meanwhile, Match Group, which owns the dating app Tinder, and its rival Bumble, which is also based in Texas, have set up funds for employees seeking abortions out of state.

“The company generally does not take political stands unless it is relevant to our business. But in this instance, I personally, as a woman in Texas, could not keep silent,” the Match chief executive, Shar Dubey, said in a memo to workers.

Salesforce, which was founded in 1999 by the former Oracle executive Benioff and partners as one of the first web-based software service providers, has a reputation for looking after its workers. In 2020 it was ranked in the top 10 US companies for employee satisfaction in a Forbes survey.

It also has a history of involvement in politics. In 2015, Benioff said Salesforce was “dramatically reducing” its investment in Indiana in protest against a religious freedom law that critics said promoted discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.

The state’s then governor and later US vice-president, Mike Pence, was forced to sign a “clarification” to the law after a fierce backlash from companies and gay rights activists.

Contributor

Richard Luscombe

The GuardianTramp

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