Ever since the Supreme Court announced that Roe v. Wade was no longer the law of the land, Americans have started turning to a different institution to protect their lives: their employer. The tech and games industry is no different. Staff at Nvidia, which is headquartered in Silicon Valley but has offices in other states as well, have been disappointed that the graphics card manufacturer has not taken a stance on their right to life-saving healthcare.
Employees at the chip giant had expected better from Nvidia because it had previously supported causes such as pride and women in leadership. One source that spoke to Kotaku on the condition of anonymity recalled that the company had taken the initiative to relocate employees who were working out of Ukraine during the invasion. “A lot of tech companies [think] there’s kind of a cost benefit analysis of taking a stance on things like [abortion],” the current Nvidia employee told Kotaku. “[They] don’t want to be political.” Another frustrated employee wanted “clear messaging from the top” and “a substantial response” to the recent legal attacks on trans rights and abortions. Kotaku reached out to Nvidia about its stance on abortion rights, but did not get a response by the time of publication.
Guaranteed access to abortions has become an important issue for employees because the GPU maker has offices in trigger law states such as Texas and Missouri, and some employees have raised the concern in company Slack channels. “At the start of [Roe being struck down], the majority of [Slack] messages were like: ‘We just want leadership to say that we know this affects our employees,” said a current employee at Nvidia. “People in Missouri and Texas are looking for specifics about what kind of help they can expect.”
Kotaku was able to obtain screenshots from the “Women in Technology Resource Group” channel in the Nvidia corporate Slack server. One staff member said, “I personally already know of at least one employee that’s having to arrange and pay for their own relocation in response to these laws [against abortion].” Another felt “shocked that there has been zero corporate communication” because of Nvidia’s expanding office in Austin, Texas. At the time of writing, the company lists 253 open jobs in Texas, the most openings at any location outside of California. The company also has offices in Alabama and Utah, where abortion is either illegal or will only be available to rape victims.
The chair of the women’s resource group at Nvidia reached out to HR about the matter, and then relayed the following response to the group: “Leadership is aware and we also encourage you to please use the suggestion box.” One employee pointed out that they already had an entire thread dedicated to the issue, and expressed frustration that employees were expected to take the initiative “on our own time.”
ZeniMax is another tech company that drew employee ire over its failure to immediately support employees in trigger law states. But while the publisher’s response was not timely or adequate, Nvidia’s affected employees are still waiting for their executives to act on their loss of reproductive rights at all.
“Personally, I would like leadership to say that [they’re] going to do everything [they] can to make sure our insurance continues to cover this,” a current employee told Kotaku. The employee noted that Nvidia’s health insurace covered out-of-state expenses for abortions, but felt concerned that material support for abortion was left to a third party that did not have employees’ best interests in mind. They also expressed concern about the possibility that the insurance company could change its policies, or that Nvidia could switch to an insurance plan that did not provide coverage for abortions. “I would appreciate some kind of commitment from leadership to doing everything they can to make sure that we do have coverage in the event that anybody needs it.”
Update 07/07/2022 5:19 p.m. ET: An Nvidia spokesperson provided the following comment:
Our focus remains on supporting the health and wellness needs of our employees and their families. We will continue to assist employees who need to travel for care, including reimbursement of travel costs.