Plus, takeaways from our Fearless Focus conversation
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Good morning and happy Monday! Thanks for all of your kind words about my birthday column last week. We’ve got a packed newsletter this week, so let’s get to it. Here’s what you’ll find:

All that and more is below! Have a great week.

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

Catch up: The potential impact if Roe v. Wade is overturned
Photos by Maria Oswalt/Unsplash and Gayatri Malhotra/Unsplash.
Editor’s note: A leaked draft opinion obtained and published by Politico last week showed that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision, the 49-year precedent that protected the constitutional right to abortion.

Chief Justice John Roberts has indicated that while the leaked document was indeed authentic, it’s not the final decision of the court. The final decision is expected this summer.

The 98-page opinion was authored by Justice Samuel Alito. In it, he wrote, "We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives."

It’s believed that four of the other Republican-appointed justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett voted with Alito. The three Democratic-appointed justices – Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – are said to be working on one or more dissents. It’s not clear how Roberts will vote.

The case has been viewed by some as a major step in the women’s rights movement but has been polarizing from the start because of its politicization and its public health effects. More recently it's become yet another social issue that businesses have found themselves intertwined with. While the Business Record is apolitical, we report on governmental decisions that affect business. Through Fearless, we believe it’s imperative to talk about policy related to gender and family issues.

What are the implications if Roe v. Wade does indeed get overturned?

It’s estimated that roughly 1 in 4 women in the U.S. will have an abortion by age 45. In 2016, more than 88% of abortions occurred within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and two-thirds of abortions occurred within the first eight weeks.

If the court does rule to overturn Roe v. Wade and leave it up to the states, 13 states are set to limit or prohibit abortion access immediately, and it’s expected that half the states may eventually prohibit all or most abortions, including Iowa, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Sixteen states – mostly located on the coasts – and Washington, D.C., have laws protecting the right to an abortion, even if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

One estimate shows that the average American would have to travel 125 miles to reach the nearest clinic that offers an abortion.

Research suggests that abortion bans and restrictions have profound effects on maternal health and well-being.

"There are going to be women that will die from pregnancy because of this decision, period," Dr. Amy Addante, an OB-GYN in Illinois, said in an NBC News article.

Abortion rights advocates say that abortion restrictions and bans hurt low-income people, young people and people of color the most.

The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country, and the rate is rising. Iowa’s maternal mortality rate is 9.4 per 100,000 live births. That rate is higher for Black, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander people.

Democrats have taken this opportunity to remind Americans about the benefits – or lack thereof – that are available to parents, including access to child care and paid family leave. One person tweeted, "77% of American workers have no paid parental leave. 1 in 4 moms goes to work 2 weeks after giving birth. Childcare costs as much as college, and the U.S. invests 0.2% of its GDP on it. For a nation seemingly set on making people have babies, we sure don't want to invest in them."

How supportive are Americans of abortions?

A majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, though in the states that have so-called trigger laws in place, people tend to believe that it should be mostly or fully illegal.

A New York Times analysis estimated that 52% of Iowans believe abortion should be mostly legal, while 45% believe it should be mostly illegal. A 2021 Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll found that 57% of Iowans say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while 38% say abortion should be illegal in most or all cases.

What are reactions from elected officials?

Gov. Kim Reynolds: "As we await the Supreme Court’s final ruling, our mission remains as clear as it has ever been. We are fighting to defend the most important freedom there is: the right to life."

Gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear: DeJear tweeted on May 2, "Tonight women across our nation are angry and they are scared. I see you. Let this soak in tonight … because tomorrow we don't mourn, we get back to work to ensure that every Iowan has access to the healthcare and reproductive care that they need."

How does this affect Iowans?

Abortion is currently legal in Iowa as long as the procedure takes place before 20 weeks into pregnancy. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, access to abortion will not immediately disappear.

The Iowa Supreme Court is expected to consider a legal challenge to a 2020 law that requires a 24-hour waiting period to obtain an abortion. That decision could overturn the 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that stated the right to abortion is protected in the state’s constitution.

At the same time, Republican lawmakers have proposed a constitutional amendment that would say Iowa "does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion." If it passes through both chambers of the next General Assembly, it will move to the ballot where Iowans will vote on it.

Why are some people considering abortion restrictions a business issue?

Women make up half of the workforce, and those who are unable to get abortions are less likely to be employed full time six months after denial of care, according to a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2018.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research released a study in 2021 estimating that current state-level abortion restrictions cost the U.S. about $105 billion each year due to a reduction in earning levels, increased job turnover and time off. The study also stated that if all state-level abortion restrictions were eliminated, 505,000 more women of reproductive age would be in the workforce, earning about $3 billion each year.

Others have made the argument that abortion is health care, and health care is an employer issue.

The vast majority of companies have stayed quiet on the issue of abortion restrictions thus far. "It is generally a mistake for corporate leaders to wade into political issues, particularly divisive political issues where they might alienate half their customer base," Anne Cori, chairman of the anti-abortion group Eagle Forum, told the New York Times.

A few – many in Texas, which is home to nearly 10% of all Fortune 500 companies – have taken public stances on abortion access and how they intend to assist their employees should they want or need one.

Amazon, Citigroup, Yelp, Apple, Match and Bumble have all announced they will help provide travel and/or medical expenses for those who have to go out of state to get an abortion.

Lyft and Uber have promised to cover legal fees for drivers if they’re sued under the Texas law that allows U.S. citizens to file lawsuits against those who help people obtain an abortion.

Salesforce, which has offices in Texas, has said it will help relocate employees who are concerned about access reproductive care in the state.

Levi’s, through a written statement, said restriction access to abortion would have "far-reaching consequences for the American workforce, the U.S. economy and our nation’s pursuit of gender and racial equity," adding that the end of Roe v. Wade would "jeopardize workplace gains women have made over the past 50 years, disproportionately impact women of color and force companies to implement different health policies for different locations."

Experts are forecasting, though, that businesses may have to pick a side if they want to retain employees, though it likely will come with a steep price of political backlash regardless of what they choose to do – or not do.

In a New York Times article, Yelp Chief Diversity Officer Miriam Warren said: "The days of companies not wading into political issues, or not speaking out on things that are perceived as private or personal, are over."

Related: Register to attend the Business Record’s Power Breakfast event, where panelists will discuss the impact of business involvement in social issues and what goes into the decision to speak up.  
6 takeaways from our Fearless Focus conversation on leadership
Panelists and moderators for the Fearless Focus event. First row, from left: Emily Kestel, Emily Barske, Evette Creighton. Second row, from left: Dawn Martinez Oropeza, Tiffany O'Donnell, Amy Kristof-Brown. Third row: Kelly Winfrey.
Representation and inclusion of all women in leadership positions continues to be an issue that businesses and organizations are dealing with.

In our first Fearless Focus event of the year, we spoke with five women across the state about the personal and systemic barriers that women leaders continue to face and what can be done to address them.

The panelists were:

  • Evette Creighton senior manager, talent, inclusion and diversity, Transamerica.
  • Amy Kristof-Brown dean, Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa.
  • Tiffany O'Donnell CEO, Women Lead Change.
  • Dawn Martinez Oropeza executive director, Al Éxito.
  • Kelly Winfrey director of graduate education and assistant professor, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, Iowa State University.

Here are takeaways and pieces of advice from our conversation:

It’s OK to not be all things to all people.

Many of the panelists identified the pressure to be perfect as a consistent barrier for all women leaders – those who work in professional fields and those who are stay-at-home moms.

Women want to be all things to all people and we have guilt that goes along with not being perfect, Kristof-Brown said. Realize that it’s OK to ask for help and it’s OK to not be perfect.

It’s also OK to outsource help and minimize unnecessary responsibilities, panelists said. That could look like picking up cupcakes at the store for the preschool party instead of making them yourself, sending your daughters to a salon instead of doing their hair yourself, or hiring a cleaning service to come every few weeks.

Saying no is something that women should feel comfortable doing, Winfrey added.

"It’s OK to say no, to delegate and to not feel guilty about doing so," she said. "A lot of us struggle with it by the nature of us being leaders or being active in our community. We’re hand-raisers, so we want to do a lot of things, but recognizing our own capacity is necessary for our mental health."

Surround yourself with people who support you.

Who you choose to spend time with is one of the most important decisions you can make – the right people can build a strong support system, and the wrong people can tear it down, panelists said.

"Choose your friends and your partners wisely," Kristof-Brown said. "Surround yourself with people that don’t make you feel guilty about the choices you make."

O’Donnell said she often reminds people that when picking a partner, "if you choose a schmuck, I can’t help you."

Panelists also said it’s important for partners to share responsibilities equally and raise kids with the expectation of being equal partners.

It’s not just women who need flexible schedules for day care, Winfrey said. "I need my husband to be able to take our son to the doctor, not just me having a schedule that allows for that. I can’t be the one that’s always there. Women need day care, but all of us do."

Creighton said she makes a point to remind her daughters that she and her husband are a team, and she’s not responsible for every little detail of their lives.

"They all have a part to play in being a part of Team Creighton," she said.

Recognize the cons that flexible work can bring.

Certainly, flexible work has been a tremendous benefit for working women.

Doing so gives them autonomy over how, when and where you work, and thus leads to meaningful, engaged work, Kristof-Brown said.

On the other hand, however, a lack of boundaries that protect when you do your work can quickly lead to burnout.

Leaders have a responsibility to understand that the ways they choose to work have implications on others, she said.

"If I’m working at 10 p.m., I need to know that as the dean, I can’t send an email then because some people will feel compelled to respond to it. … So it’s learning how to change the way I’m working to make other people feel like they can set the boundaries they need and encourage them to do so," Kristof-Brown said.

Furthermore, team leaders should reexamine how they measure performance and conduct review processes.

Visibility matters when it comes to projects and promotions, O’Donnell said. "The last thing we want to do is see the number of women in leadership fall just because we’re not in the room."

To watch the entire conversation, visit the Fearless website.

In the headlines
Worth checking out
How women across the country are talking about the possible end of Roe (Washington Post). Epiphany in the baby food aisle (The Cut). Are women really less happy than men? ("No Stupid Questions" podcast). A morning pep talk (Instagram). Working 9 to 2, and again after dinner (New York Times). Is this the year for two-woman tickets? (The 19th).
Leading Fearlessly: Who were the 'everyday shereos' who shaped you?
If asked who my female heroes were when I was growing up, I would probably have said Joan of Arc, Frida Kahlo or Amelia Earhart – historical figures I admired for their bravery and independence. But looking back, the women who truly shaped me and influenced my professional life most were the ones who were around me and knew me, who supported me no matter what. While they were far from ordinary, I call these women "everyday sheros."

I was fortunate to have grandmothers, aunts and a mother who were role models at juggling work and home life, passionate about politics and the world. My sister and my best girlfriend since childhood have always had my back. Several beloved teachers identified skills and pushed me to develop and grow. My adult girlfriends, in-laws and cousins have been steady presences in my life, always willing to listen, brainstorm and support my crazy ideas; even those who I see less often inspire me each time we talk. I’ve been lucky to work with inspiring female leaders and colleagues, and to have friends and allies from women’s leadership groups and networks. The list of women who have shaped me and – whether they knew it or not – supported my professional dreams is quite long.

These are my everyday sheroes. They are not famous on a world stage, but are pivotal in my life – and they deserve official shero status because, even while on their own winding journeys, they have believed in and supported other women, each in their own way.

With Mother’s Day just celebrated, let's keep reflecting on our mothers and on all the women who have helped shape and transform us in our day-to-day lives. And let us be there for other women as well.

I asked some local fearless leaders: "Who was a woman who always believed in you and supported your professional dreams?"

Michelle Bates, chief innovation officer, Revology: My mom, Virginia Hochstedler, was and is my inspiration. She grew up in a very modest household, worked from the time she was 14 years old and had a high school education. She believed in me, wanted more for me, and made college a reality. She taught me the power of grit, grace and faith in myself.

Brittani Dudley, the Urban Impact Show: My mom has been my biggest support system throughout my life. At a very early age she pushed me to find what I was passionate about, and completely focus on that. She encouraged me to make sure I gave 110% in everything I did, and always pushed me to finish everything I started. These are traits I carried to adulthood.

Christine Her, executive director, ArtForce Iowa: The women of ArtForce Iowa, my work sisters and little sisters in our programs have been some of my greatest champions. In my highest of highs and lowest of lows, these incredible women have been there to celebrate and grieve with me. They allow me to show up as my truest, most authentic self – the good parts and the messy parts.

Maria Ramos, human resources talent acquisition manager, AgState: Many women helped me achieve a successful career. They encouraged, empowered and affirmed me, but none more than my mother. She beams with pride when she looks at me, keeping me positive, focused and strong. She never learned to read or write, but taught me the value of hard work and an education – doing the impossible to give me every possibility.

Karla Walsh, wellness, food and lifestyle freelance writer and freelance writing coach: My mom is my biggest cheerleader personally and professionally. From mailing my two boxes of possessions to my new home as I pursued my NYC magazine dreams to reading every single story that I publish, to predicting I will win awards even when I know chances are slim, my mom believes in me even when I struggle to do so myself.

Lindsey White, control management senior manager, vice president, Wells Fargo Home Lending Business Controls: My motherhood journey began at 19 and I received abounding support from my parents, specifically my mother. At a time where my goals could have been pushed aside, she provided assurance my opportunities had no limits, even if there were detours. She is my biggest cheerleader with every personal and professional accomplishment. I am forever grateful for her unconditional support.

Shekinah Young, global inclusion consultant, Principal Financial Group: My late mother, Juanita Wilson-Young, was the president of my fan club and always supported my professional endeavors. I believe she did so because I am a physical manifestation of her dreams. Every prayer, sacrifice and decision made led to the now. She made the safer decisions so that I can go farther and reach higher than she or my grandmother did. She did it because of love.
Pi515 holds second Girls Entrepreneurship Summit, announces Promise Pledge
The Pi515 2022 Girls Entrepreneurs Summit concluded last week with the announcement of this year’s pitch competition winner, Aerz Johnson, a ninth grade student at Waterloo West High School.

"I didn’t really have a plan before this. I don’t even have an idea to be up here," Johnson said. "I didn’t know how to pitch, but now this is a great skill to have. I’m so thankful that I know this now. When I do put my business in motion, I know what to prepare for … and I wouldn’t be able to have the opportunity without Pi515."

The participants, girls and women ages 14 to 22, spent each Saturday of the last six weeks developing their business idea and preparing to pitch it to a panel of judges.

Gov. Kim Reynolds attended the event to meet the participants and hear about their business ideas.

"It was just incredible to hear their stories and really I think just to see their passion about being able to work on this project, to take an idea and turn it into a potential business," Reynolds said in her remarks.

Pi515 announced during the event that it has committed to "creating and strengthening the talent pipeline and empowering students to realize their full potential" with its 2022 Promise Pledge to raise more than $1 million to reinvest into its communities and youths.

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