President Biden’s harder line on COVID-19 vaccinations has corporate America talking about what measures they may have to implement toward employees.
On Thursday, the president ordered new federal vaccine requirements for nearly 100 million people in the U.S. in an effort to control the Delta variant.
“We have been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said in a speech at the White House.
The influential Business Roundtable — led by top CEOs such as Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and Walgreen’s CEO Rosalind Brewer — was quick to release their thoughts on the measure.
“Business Roundtable welcomes the Biden administration’s continued vigilance in the fight against COVID. America’s business leaders know how critical vaccination and testing are in defeating the pandemic, which is why so many have invested resources in encouraging and incentivizing their customers and employees to get vaccinated, including providing paid time off. Over the past several weeks many companies have decided to implement a vaccine mandate for some or all of their employees, a decision we applaud. Business Roundtable looks forward to continue working with the administration and leaders across all levels of government to defeat the pandemic,” Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten said in a statement.
To be sure, the debate on a vaccine mandate inside of the halls of corporate America is now only likely to heat up.
Here’s what several top CEOs said on Yahoo Finance Live about Biden’s tougher stance on COVID-19 vaccines.
“Since the very first day, the health and safety of our team has been the number one priority above all. We certainly have programs in place to support vaccination. We encourage it. I have been vaccinated. I am glad I was. In terms of mandating vaccination, we will wait and see where that goes. We think vaccination is smart, and we are encouraging it. In some cases we will put some incentives in place to ensure that happens. We feel very good about policies in place. We haven’t had meaningful COVID issues within the office on the team, we do track that. We ask employees to notify us. We feel good about where we are.”
Rocket Companies CEO Jay Farner
“What we have learned is that we can perform in an excellent manner regardless of what is happening, whether people are working from home or working in the office. For us and our culture, we want people in the office as much as possible as it encourages collaboration. We already rolled out a process very similar to what President Biden has asked for a few weeks ago. So our team members are either vaccinated or tested weekly before they come into the office.”
Academy Sports CEO Ken Hicks
“We encourage all of our team members to get a vaccination. We provide access. We also provide compensation to the hourly employees. And we will monitor that, and the OSHA and the Fed government guidance that comes out. Hopefully it will be something thoughtful that we can all support and live with.”
“Being remote right now [our workforce] that question [on a vaccine mandate] is moot. But as we push our reopening to the start of next year, and as we kind of get into that, we will be following the national and CDC guidelines to make sure we are providing the safety for every one of our employees.”