A company speech policy bars workers from discussing the issue lest Meta become a ‘hostile work environment’
Meta employees have been warned against discussing abortion on Workplace, the company’s internal Facebook clone, workers told The Verge on Thursday. To justify the ban on discussing the topic, which has apparently been in place since 2019, the company cited an “Risistance is higher” that the company would be seen as a “Work environment hostile”
The rule in question bars employees from talking about “Opinions or discussions about whether abortion is legal or not, the availability of abortion rights, as well as political, religious, and humanitarian perspectives on this topic,” the company’s “Respectful Communication Policy” states, according to The Verge.
Although some employees are supportive of this policy, others demand it be scrapped by management in light the newly-leaked draft opinion being circulated around the Supreme Court. They note that it is also contrary to company policies on controversial issues such as Black Lives Matter, immigration and LGBT.
Human resources VP Janelle Gale argued during an all-hands meeting on Thursday that abortion was “This is the topic most reported to be divisive” by employees in Workplace, pointing out that “even if people are respectful, and they’re attempting to be respectful about their view on abortion, it can still leave people feeling like they’re being targeted based on their gender or religion.” The subject is “One topic is that of all trips that are protected classes.,” she claimed.
Gale’s views were by no means universally shared – several comments about the policy posted by employees were censored over the course of the meeting – but senior executive Naomi Gleit reportedly agreed with Gale’s conclusions in an internal post, explaining that “This topic is sensitive at work and can be difficult to talk about on Workplace..”
Meta employees are only permitted to discuss the topic “Chat with trusted colleagues in private settings (e.g. live, chat, etc.)” or “In a listening session, a group of five people with similar interests can show solidarity.” Employees should instead use Meta apps in their personal capacity and take comfort in the fact that the corporation pays for their reproductive healthcare no matter where in the US they live, Gleit said.
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Meta’s public image is strongly pro-choice. COO Sheryl Sandberg calls abortion “Undoubtedly, one of our fundamental rights” on her own Facebook page, declaring that “No matter her location, every woman should be able to make the decision whether she is going to become a mother..”
However, a 10-year veteran of Meta and its predecessor Facebook wrote in another internal post that the company’s stifling speech policy on the topic of abortion had caused her to feel “Workplace isolation and silence,” pointing out that a previous attempt to share those sentiments had been removed and describing the process of “Respectful communication policy” as “Dehumanizing, dystopian.”