Texas’ Abortion Ban Hurts Big Oil’s Effort to Transform Its Workforce

As Texas officials moved to restrict abortion, and promote Christianity in schools and the state’s power grid teetered on collapse, oil workers are moving away from the state over its increasingly strident politics and polarization.

Oil companies have spent millions of dollars in efforts to counter the frayed image of fossil fuels and recruit a younger and more diverse workforce. 

But a flaring of political culture wars and social issues, especially around abortion, LGBTQ rights, and religion, have threatened to undo the hiring and retention goals of these companies. 

A new study found that more than half of women between 18-44 years and 45 percent of college-educated male and female workers would not consider a job in a state that banned abortion. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has acknowledged his state is losing workers but does not regret the departures. 

Big oil companies in Texas are struggling with this reality. BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Shell, and TotalEnergies are finding it difficult to attract a more diverse, as well as a younger, workforce, especially in states like Texas. 

The business risks to recruiting are especially high for oil companies, already unpopular with graduates of engineering programs, experts say. 

Asset management firms are asking companies to take action to minimize the financial losses of a limited workforce. Experts say that a lack of diversity is not only a problem to financial performance, which they are acutely aware of but also one of the company values. 

Some California members of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) have declined to attend the group’s conference in Houston in October because of the state’s anti-abortion law, which bans most abortions after about six weeks, without any exception even for incest or rape.

SWE after next year will not hold conferences for its 40,000 members in states with abortion bans due to “restricted access to women’s healthcare,” according to its website.

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