Chemours board member resigns over abortion, trans benefits
WILMINGTON – A longtime board of directors’ member for Chemours has resigned in dispute with leadership of the publicly traded chemical company, citing its support for transgender and abortion medical procedures under its employee benefits plan.
Bradley J. Bell, an independent director who has served on Chemours board since it was spun off from DuPont in 2015, informed the company of his resignation, effective Jan. 2, in a letter sent Dec. 22, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. His listing among Chemours corporate officers has already been removed from the company website though.
As a member of the company’s Compensation and Leadership Development Committee, Bell was among the directors who reviewed recent changes to the company’s employee benefits beginning in 2023. Those changes include medical benefits for employees and their dependents to cover transgender procedures, abortions and, beginning next year, travel benefits for those needing to travel more than 100 miles to obtain such medical services.
Bell, 70, a veteran executive of several water treatment companies over his career, including Rohm & Haas, is also a board chair of the Pregnancy Resource Center of Southwest Florida, a network of pregnancy clinics that aim to prevent abortion.
He reportedly voiced his “strong disagreement” over the Chemours coverage in November meetings, and after wrestling with how to coincide with his beliefs and the company’s stance, he decided to resign. The move comes with a personal cost, as his directorship earned a $105,000 salary and $145,000 in stock options in 2021.
“While I do not believe it is the board’s role to design employee benefit plans, I strongly believe the board has a major role in setting the moral tone and direction for Chemours overall. I find these provisions in our benefit plans to be morally and ethically wrong,” Bell wrote.
“Chemours management mentioned that this ‘benefit’ was something that employees had indicated as being important to them. Is that truly the case, or is the company simply wanting to make a statement in our increasingly ‘woke’ culture?” he added.
In a statement, Chemours said it “acknowledges Mr. Bell’s personal beliefs and respects his decision to resign.”
“Chemours’ ambition to be a ‘Great Place to Work for all,’ begins with our values. Every day we focus on holistic safety which prioritizes the physical, emotional, and psychological safety of every person at Chemours, and our employee benefits reflect this approach,” the company added.
Abortion coverage has increasingly become a flashpoint for corporate America after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the longtime Roe v. Wade mandate that ensured access to the procedure. A dozen states now ban abortion outright, including Kentucky and West Virginia where Chemours has operations, forcing employees to seek care in other states if desired.
A number of the nation’s largest companies have begun offering abortion coverage and travel expenses for the care in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, including Amazon, Disney, Target, Procter & Gamble, and more. Chemours is joined in its coverage by a number of Wilmington’s other largest employers, namely banking giants JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.
Instead of providing coverage for employees to seek abortions, Bell suggested in his lengthy resignation letter that Chemours employees instead be “encouraged, if not required” to have a consultative visit first at a clinic like those that he oversees or to support an employee who carried an unwanted pregnancy to term so that the child could be adopted.
“I believe these are the types of offerings that better serve our employee base,” he wrote.
No timeline has been offered by the company as to when it would replace Bell on its 10-member board.