Major ad holding companies to fund staff travel for abortion access

Pro-choice demonstrators during a Pro-Choice Mother's Day Rally
(Credit: Getty Images)

Five of the ad industry’s agency holding companies have revamped their benefits packages to fund travel for women seeking abortions in the US, in wake of the Supreme Court’s leaked memo.

The ad industry is starting to react to the momentous implications around Roe v. Wade in the U.S.

U.S.-based Interpublic Group (IPG) and France-based Publicis Groupe on Monday confirmed to Campaign US that they will commit to funding travel for women in the country seeking abortion access. 

In an email, a spokesperson told Campaign US that “IPG is updating our healthcare benefits to provide funding for travel that allows consistent access to healthcare, including abortion care and other critical medical services.”

Publicis Groupe also notified employees in a virtual roundtable with CEO Arthur Sadoun on Wednesday (May 4) that it will continue to support reproductive healthcare for employees in the U.S., including supporting access to travel for abortions, according a spokesperson.  

On Tuesday (May 10), an Omnicom spokesperson told Campaign US over email: "Since Omnicom updated our healthcare policy in 2006, we have provided funding for necessary travel to access healthcare providers, including reproductive services. We will continue to ensure our people have access to health services no matter where they live in the U.S. "

And on Wednesday (May 11), a Stagwell spokesperson confirmed that the holding company's health care plan already covers abortions and other reproductive services. "In the event that there is a Supreme Court ruling that results in state governments taking actions that restrict our employees’ ability to access those services, we will institute a travel benefit policy to insure full and fair access."

IPG, Publicis, Omnicom and Stagwell join WPP, which on Friday (May 6) revealed in a leaked memo from CEO Mark Read to U.S. staffers that the holding company was updating its healthcare benefits to include travel funding for employees in the country seeking abortion access. 

“Many of you have spoken to me and your agency leadership teams following changes in the laws governing reproductive healthcare in the U.S. at the state level, and the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft majority opinion on Roe v. Wade,” the memo said. “We don’t know the full details or impact of these potential changes in reproductive rights yet, but we do know we want our people to have the same health coverage regardless of where they live.”

The ad industry is starting to react to the implications around Roe v. Wade while their clients remain largely silent on the divisive issue. Last week, PR firm Edelman and subsidiary Zeno Group came under fire for advising its high-profile corporate clients to keep quiet on the topic.

Advertising agencies are dealing with an unprecedented talent crisis and are seeking to retain staff looking for more support and flexibility in the workplace after the COVID-19 pandemic. Decisions regarding access to healthcare come as holding companies face high employee turnover and a tight labor market.

This story has been updated with a statement from Omnicom and Stagwell. 

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