Takeaways from Fearless Focus event, Iowa companies react to Roe v. Wade decision
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Good morning, happy Tuesday and happy July! We’ve officially entered the dog days of summer, though I cannot be alone in the belief that these next few weeks will be anything but slow and uneventful.

We’ve got a packed-to-the-gills edition of Fearless this week. If you’re looking for more coverage on the effects of the Roe v. Wade decision, we’ve got you covered. If you’re looking to not read more stories about it, we’ve got something for you, too.

Here’s what you’ll find in this week’s newsletter:

Have a great week!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

Iowa companies weigh in on impact of Roe v. Wade decision on state’s workforce
Editor’s note: While the Business Record is apolitical, we report on governmental decisions that affect business. Through our Fearless initiative, we believe it’s imperative to talk about policy related to gender and family issues.

This story will be updated as more information about employers’ policies becomes available.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month overturned Roe v. Wade, ending a nearly 50-year precedent of a federal right to abortion. The decision gives individual states the authority to regulate abortion access. Some estimates say 26 states are likely to outlaw most, if not all, abortions.

For years, businesses have avoided weighing in on issues of reproductive health, but they now find themselves feeling pressured to speak out. Many national corporations have made headlines after announcing travel reimbursements for abortion. To get a sense of what’s happening at the local level, the Business Record reached out to more than 45 companies – including members of the Iowa Business Council, Iowa’s publicly held companies and businesses listed as the area’s largest employers in the Business Record’s Book of Lists – and asked if they’ve made any public or private statements. Twelve responded with comments in time for the article’s initial publication.

The following companies have announced expansions to benefits to include travel reimbursement for health services.

Principal Financial Group: "Principal is committed to supporting our employees with equitable access to safe health care options. As such, we’ve recently shared with our U.S. employees that we’ve expanded our health plan’s travel reimbursement policy to include reimbursement for travel-related expenses for health services that are not available in every state, including reproductive services."

Dotdash Meredith confirmed CEO Neil Vogel sent out the following email to employees: "As we are all processing the emotions from yesterday’s news of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, please know that we are committed to the health and well-being of all our Dotdash Meredith employees. We will now cover travel expenses for employees seeking reproductive healthcare if unavailable within 100 miles of your home. This benefit has already been added to our Aetna programs for legacy Dotdash employees, and the benefit will be extended to legacy Meredith employees as well (our health plans are still separate until year end). There are still a few details to be worked out, but this is what we are doing to make sure that all of our team can access the same healthcare coverage no matter where they live. If you have specific questions please contact HR and they can help."

Businessolver in an email to the Business Record said it is communicating only to its employees and clients about the ruling and its impact. However, it confirmed a LinkedIn post that an employee shared that announced a medical travel reimbursement benefit for employees to offset the cost. "With Solvers in 43 states, we understand and embrace our responsibility to support all Solvers in navigating work and life. Businessolver is a diverse employer, with nearly 1,500 employees representing a broad cross-section of personal, cultural, and spiritual beliefs … and we understand this ruling has implications for both the employees we support and clients we serve."

The following companies have said they are currently reviewing benefits and monitoring the ruling’s reach.

Hy-Vee: "As always, we are constantly reviewing the offerings and plans we provide as options to our employees. We are currently monitoring how the states we are in will be addressing this."

Wellmark: "Wellmark shared a short statement with our employees the afternoon of the ruling. In that statement we shared with employees that we are actively reviewing the court’s decision to fully understand its implications. While we do so, we remain committed to supporting our members and employer groups while complying with the law in the communities we serve. As we learn more, we will communicate what, if any, impact this will have on specific health plan benefits."

Kum & Go said it is still working through its plans and response. Kum & Go CEO Tanner Krause said in a series of tweets on June 28 "Women’s Rights >>> State’s Rights and any other rationale for overturning Roe. This court has set Women’s Rights & Healthcare back 50+ years. I’m sorry to my mother, my wife, my daughter and all the females out there who lost autonomy over their bodies. I will continue to be your ally for equal rights."

The Weitz Co. has not made a public statement or sent out an internal message to employees, but said in an email to the Business Record: "We recognize this is a deeply personal matter to our employees and prefer - and encourage - conversations on an individual basis with those who are struggling or concerned with the impacts of this decision. Our human resources team stands ready to offer support and resources for employees who may be experiencing stress and anxiety."

Sammons Financial Group: "We have shared an update on the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling with our nearly 1,700 employees. Our chief priority is to assure our employees of their healthcare-related benefits. Sammons Financial Group remains steadfast in our commitment to our employees and their families by providing broad health and wellness coverage through our benefit plans. The update we shared includes a compilation of resources pertaining to our existing employee medical coverage benefit plans."

6 takeaways from our Fearless Focus conversation on confidence
From left: Cheltzie Miller-Bailey, Cyndi Nelson, Beth Shelton, Gilmara Vila Nova-Mitchell.
Last month the Business Record hosted its second virtual event within the Fearless Focus series. Throughout our conversation, we talked about what confidence means, what it looks like, and how to strengthen it in ourselves and others.

We talked with:

  • Cheltzie Miller-Bailey - former assistant director, Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success, Iowa State University.
  • Cyndi Nelson - owner, Hawks Coffee Shop and Gypsy Soul Boutique.
  • Beth Shelton - CEO, Girl Scouts of Greater Iowa.
  • Gilmara Vila Nova Mitchell - director of diversity, equity and inclusion, IMT Insurance.

Below are takeaways from the conversation. Some responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.

‘It’s OK to be a work in progress’

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who feels completely confident about themselves all of the time. Nobody’s perfect and everybody fails.

Vila Nova-Mitchell: We have to make sure young girls know that taking risks and leaving their comfort zone is fine to do. If things don’t turn out the way they expected, they can always learn from it. Perfection is one huge challenge we have when it comes to being confident. It’s OK to fail. It’s OK to take chances. It’s OK to leave your comfort zone and try something new. The results are not what matters most – it’s the journey. We have to put an expectation on young girls that life will be hard. There are a lot of times we communicate to them that everything’s going to be perfect, and it’s going to be easy and it’s going to be like what we watch on TV. We rob them of the opportunity to develop skills to navigate challenges. It’s OK to be a work in progress.

Miller Bailey: So much of knowing yourself comes from failing forward, to an extent. You don’t have to struggle to get to a place of confidence per se, but I do think that having moments where I felt unsure has helped me figure out what my values are. I’m aware of my values because of all the times that they’ve been up against a wall and I’ve had to pick between aligning with them or doing something that feels off.

Nelson: Confidence has to be something that you peck away at slowly but surely. Sometimes the journey is shorter for other people than it is for others. I absolutely hate it when everyone gets participation medals. I love it when my children fail at something – when they’re not getting to be tournament champions all the time, when they didn’t get student of the month, when they got a B on their homework assignment because they didn’t put the time in to study like Mom told them to. It teaches them that you have to work hard and you have to keep trying. Failure is a part of life. I fail every day. People criticize me all the time. I still go home and cry when [my business] gets a one-star review. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m sitting here having it all figured out. Confidence comes one step at a time, one day at a time.

Know your values, strengths and weaknesses

Knowing what you’re good at, what you’re not good at and what you believe in helps build confidence.

Shelton: When I think about confidence, I think about having an accurate sense of self. When I’m expressing that authentically and then living authentically in those moments is when I feel confident. It’s not when I’m being the loudest or most in the spotlight. It’s when I’m being a true reflection of how I actually am.

Vila Nova-Mitchell: My definition of confidence is knowing who you are and living aligned with who you are. It doesn’t need to be loud. It can be very quiet and gentle. A very important element of confidence is humility, and understanding that you suck at some things, embracing the suck and the imperfection and feeling good about it. We all have areas to work on and we all have beautiful things to share. Understand who you are, what your strengths are and what you bring to the table. Self-awareness is a huge piece of feeling confident in who you are.

Nelson: I own two businesses, I sit on five boards in our community and I’m striving to be a part of the city council or the school board. Because I do those things, sometimes I fail in other areas. We as women are really good about feeling really crappy about ourselves when we don’t do all of the things like baking the perfect cake, packing the snacks or creating the scrapbook. It takes confidence to say, "I’m really bad at meal prepping, I’m really bad at remembering to pack my kids’ lunch, I’m really bad at getting my kids to practice on time." My kids know it, my husband knows it, the coach knows it. Whoever is in my life understands that I have a lot on my plate and I’m doing the best I can. I have the confidence to say to people that just because I’m bad at those things, that doesn’t make me a bad mom, business owner, wife or person. I just can’t do it all. I have to put value in the things that I think are impacting my community the most, and my son showing up 15 minutes early to practice sometimes isn’t it.

Challenge societal norms and how you fit within them

Sometime, somewhere, someone conjured up a way of doing things and decided that was the "right way" of doing them. For example, some think: If you don’t wear a pantsuit or skirt to work, you’re not a professional. If you have blue hair as an adult, you’re childish. If you don’t sign your emails with "best" or "thanks," you’re rude. If you choose to not adhere to them, you’re often othered, which can affect your confidence.

Miller-Bailey: There is this sort of unwritten, scribed set of rules that we all follow. Those norms are rooted in things like racism, sexism and classism. If you don’t fit within a certain box, it’s really hard to succeed, and that’s what shakes confidence for so many of us. Those norms are doubled, tripled or quadrupled based on how a person identifies. I think about myself growing up as a Black, queer woman in Central Iowa. I was often the only person of a color in a room. It’s incredibly hard to develop individuality even when it’s thrust upon you. … There is an idealized set of things, but why? What if we all just stopped aspiring to that concept? Perhaps that would change everything. … I want to see more people diving into their uniqueness, their individuality, and recognizing that the differences in all of us is really what makes the world a special place.

Shelton: There’s some irony in the fact that we long to fit into the norm. They’re never going to go away. We want to be in these norms and yet we celebrate those who stand out.

Left: Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Center: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. Right: Ghislane Maxwell.
In the headlines
  • Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in last week as the 104th associate justice and first Black woman justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Jackson is replacing Justice Stephen Breyer, whose retirement became official on Thursday and who was one of the three justices who voted against overturning Roe v. Wade.
  • Gov. Kim Reynolds has launched a two-pronged legal effort to restrict abortions in Iowa. She said she intends to urge the Iowa Supreme Court to redecide the case in which the state’s proposed 24-hour waiting period for an abortion was argued, and will also ask that the courts lift an injunction that’s blocking the enactment of a 2018 law that effectively outlaws abortions after six weeks.
  • Ghislane Maxwell has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for recruiting and trafficking four teenage girls for sexual abuse by Jeffrey Epstein. The judge in the case called for a "very significant sentence" and said she wanted to send an "unmistakable message" that such crimes would be punished.
  • R&B singer R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges. During the trial, which centered on the allegations of six people, prosecutors said Kelly was a serial sexual predator who abused young women, as well as underage girls and boys, for more than two decades.
  • Beyond looking at the effects of abortion restrictions on women, experts are urging people to also look at how the repeal of Roe v. Wade is going to affect men. One recent study showed that 1 in 5 men have impregnated someone who has had an abortion. Another study found that young men who were involved with a pregnancy and whose partners had an abortion were nearly four times more likely to graduate from college than those whose partners gave birth.
  • In the days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, people have rushed to stock up on emergency contraception pills, including Plan B. The uptick in demand could lead to large profits for the private equity firms that are behind the company, which are entirely made up of men.
  • Developers of period trackers and fertility apps are working on ways to anonymize user data in response to fears that data could be used against people in states where abortion is illegal.
  • The Iowa attorney general’s office is offering free online training on sexual assault topics for Iowa medical providers. The three-hour training is led by the Crime Victim’s Assistance Division and covers a range of topics, including the role of sexual assault response teams and sexual assault nurse examiners, the sexual assault evidence kit tracking system, programs within the Crime Victim’s Assistance Division and hospital policies and procedures.
  • Pi515 announced last week it has been awarded a multiyear $200,000 Black Women Impact grant from Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women initiative.
Worth checking out
‘This is me, as I am’: A photographer documents her own gender transition (National Geographic). ‘Peanuts,’ one of the world’s most popular cartoons, pushed for Title IX in the 1970s (NPR). To relax outside of work this summer, rethink your workday (Time Charter).

Worth checking out: Roe v. Wade coverage
Workplaces and the overturning of Roe (Time Charter). Read the memos that Disney, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and more sent to staff regarding the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision (Fortune). ‘What is women’s empowerment in a world without Roe v. Wade?’ (Time). 18 ways the Supreme Court changed America (Politico). America is about to see just how pro-life Republicans actually are (The Atlantic).
What audience members had to say at the Fearless Focus event
A main goal of our Fearless Focus events is connection and inspiration. We were so happy to hear multiple comments from attendees saying the event helped boost their confidence, and some even told us they wanted to share the event recording with their daughters to help boost their confidence. That is what Fearless is all about – there’s no higher compliment.

We saw robust engagement in the virtual chat as the speakers enlightened us. Here’s some of what audience members were thinking about during the discussion.

– Emily Barske, Business Record editor

Living authentically – and not apologizing for it
A few audience members said confidence meant being able to fully live their identities as their authentic selves. One person called it "living aligned with your truth." There was also a theme of giving yourself permission to be OK or bad at things – and not feeling obligated to do all things at all times for all people. "I am learning to stop saying I am sorry. For my time, my feelings, my personality, etc.," one audience member said.

Imposter syndrome
One audience member acknowledged confidence and the ties to imposter syndrome. "I never knew there was a name for ‘imposter syndrome,’ until I was older, but it's something that's plagued me my whole life, and I think it does women more than men. I have not applied for jobs because I didn't think I was qualified. I've started jobs that I felt as if they'd made a mistake in hiring me, even when I turned out to crush it! We've got to work on that with the next generation of women." Another person said that confidence is "not desiring opinions of others because self worth comes from within."

Instill confidence in others
One person talked about not realizing they were equipped to lead a group they were a part of until someone else asked them to step up. "Others often see things in us that we don't see. Let's keep lifting each other up and encouraging each other." Another audience member said, "Surrounding yourself with women who support you through the good and the bad is so important!" And another person wrote, "When we spend time with confident, strong and good women, it helps us grow [in] those ways as well."

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