Abortion Rights Loom Larger in Investment Decisions
In recent years, funds focused in investments that have a social impact have emerged to bet on start-ups advancing reproductive health and innovation. After the Supreme Court decision in June to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion, individual investors turned their attention to reproductive health care.
Almost immediately after the court’s decision, Alinea, an investing app geared toward young adults, saw a new investment focus on companies that support reproductive health, said Alinea’s founders, Eve Halimi and Anam Lakhani.
“When the news came out, one of the community members created a pro-abortion-rights playlist” — as in a basket of stocks — “with companies that were supporting the cause,” Ms. Halimi told the DealBook newsletter. “We saw a rush of activity.”
That first, spontaneous user-created playlist included companies that were taking a stand to support abortion access, rather than those connected to women’s health, echoing public demand for businesses to weigh in on the issue.
Later, users asked for an updated version of the playlist, and the founders adopted that same standard. It now includes about 50 firms — Levi’s, Apple, Pfizer and Tesla among them — that have taken a stand against the overturning of Roe v. Wade or help pay for employees’ access to abortion services, or both.
Data from the platform shows reproductive rights looming large in investment decisions. But location and gender matter. One month after the decision, Alinea had about 10,000 female users. Of those:
About 11 percent are in Texas, where abortion access was threatened, and slightly more than half are now investing in companies that support abortion access.
About 25 percent are in New York City, where reproductive rights remain robust, and only about 40 percent of them are investing in companies that support abortion access.
More than 30 percent of new app users now cite the change in reproductive rights as a reason for their interest in both investing and financial independence.
No male users have invested in playlists that are made up of companies supporting abortion rights.
Reproductive rights at the corporate level are the newest frontier for the environmental, social and governance investing framework, according to Confluence Philanthropy, a network of investment managers, shareholder activists and others that convened a panel discussion on the matter in June. Expect a flurry of proxy proposals as activists plan to push deeper into the corporate arena. Previous efforts have failed, but E.S.G. experts are certainly telling companies to start preparing.