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Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is growing in importance for many organizations. Some companies are opting to push forth their DEI initiatives by tying them to executive compensation, which can influence improved recruiting and hiring practices, as well as creating more development opportunities for people in underrepresented groups.
However, employers can also improve DEI at their organizations by offering more inclusive benefits. LGBTQ+ employees, in particular, could be better served by more inclusive benefits. A recent survey from IBM’s Institute for Business Value found that nearly half of the 700 LGBTQ+ employees surveyed believe their employer discriminates against people of their sexual orientation. An additional study found that 75% of LGBTQ+ employees reported experiencing at least one negative interaction related to their LGBTQ+ identity at work in the past year.
A way employers can alleviate this within their own LGBTQ+ employee population is through a paid family leave policy that applies to all families. Just 17% of employees had access to paid family leave as of 2018, and fathers are often still considered a secondary caregiver from a workplace perspective. However, WorldatWork’s “2020 Inventory of Total Rewards Programs & Practices” survey indicated this could be improving for the better, as 61% of employers indicated they provide paid parental leave, including nonmedical maternity and paternity.
“Providing the same benefit and support for both birthing and non-birthing parents is vital,” said Sarah Britton, senior manager of employee operations at Lever. “You want everyone to have the same opportunity to bond with their new child. Offering a similar benefit for both parents is a huge way to be more inclusive.”
Companies can also offer support through reimbursement for fertility treatment. A study by FertilityIQ found 400 United States-based companies offer benefits for fertility treatments. For example, Starbucks offers part-time employees infertility coverage after just one month on the job. And other companies such as the Bank of America, Tesla and Spotify offer unlimited in vitro fertilization (IVF) coverage to their employee.
It’s an important and appealing benefit because IVF can be upward of $20,000 in most major cities per cycle, according to FertilityIQ research. And, as many same-sex couples turn to IVF to start and build their families, companies can financially support them through this process.
There’s also a recruiting advantage to having these more inclusive benefits and communicating them externally. Nearly 80% of LGBTQ+ professionals feel it’s important that a prospective employer expresses an outward commitment to supporting LGBTQ+ employees.
“It definitely helps in attracting talent,” Britton said. “Leveraging these benefits is a great way to broaden your talent base and grow your company.”
Another way employers can better serve not only LGBTQ+ employees, but also the broader employee base, is by establishing employee resource groups (ERG). These groups are generally based on providing support, enhancing career development and contribution to personal development in the work environment. However, they can also better inform employer decisions around benefits offerings and organizational initiatives.
“ERG is a really great source and a thing that companies should think about offering to their organizations if they haven’t already,” Britton said. “It creates a space where employees can engage one another and find a sense of community. It makes them feel safe and during these difficult times our leadership prioritized these ERGs so there was more connection.
“If we can empower ERGs with support and resources so employees can feel comfortable and safe to be a part of, I think that’s something organizations should consider.”
About the Author
Brett Christie is the managing editor of Workspan Daily.