The need for an inclusive benefits package has become increasingly important over the last year. With the trend towards remote work accelerating during COVID-19 and movements like Black Lives Matter highlighting the importance and urgency of fostering an inclusive, welcoming workplace, virtually every benefits professional has had to turn a critical eye to their offerings. The need for inclusive benefits right now hinges on its importance for the workforce: both as an action to follow the words of executives vowing to fight systemic racism and a way to support your company into the future.
We put together some key inclusions and considerations to ensure your company is not only supporting their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) but also doing so in a way that’s accessible — no matter where an employee is based.
Why does my company need an inclusive benefits package?
Before we dive into why inclusive benefits are important, let’s define what we mean when we talk about them. An inclusive benefit is a benefit that’s accessible to all employees regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. With the workforce becoming increasingly diverse across all categories, 67% of workers seek diversity in new roles and 57% believe that employers should be doing more to increase workplace diversity. Building an inclusive benefits package shows your employees that your company isn’t just talking about DEI — it’s taking action and making changes.
Part of this is taking a close look at legacy benefits offerings. Many traditional components of benefits programs, while important, have limitations on the support they offer, particularly for distributed workforces. One of the most common limitations is around geography — for example, benefits based at a company’s headquarters or health coverage with narrow, local networks. However, it often goes beyond that; many benefit plans can be exclusive of some employees by nature — fertility coverage, for example, that restricts coverage to those meeting a limited definition of infertility, thus excluding LGBTQ+ people and single intending parents. That’s why now is the time for benefits leaders to take a look at their existing benefits and make sure they’re meeting their workforce’s changing needs.
Key considerations for inclusive benefits packages
To be truly inclusive, you’ll want to consider some of these inclusions for your company's benefits package. Remember that inclusive benefits account for all employees, employee locations, and employee work settings.
Talk with your workforce about what they value in their benefits packages
The first place to start is with your workforce. Speaking with employees, leaders, and employee resource groups (ERGs) can help you get a sense of potential priorities in your benefits package. If you haven’t already started an annual benefits survey, it can also be a useful and informative tool for making strategic decisions.
Support employee mental health
COVID-19, remote work, and other factors such as unconscious bias in the workforce can take a toll on employee health. Research has shown that women and LGBTQ+ employees are often disproportionately impacted by mental health issues, meaning that mental health support is crucial in a diverse workplace for employee well-being. Even before the pandemic, loneliness and isolation were common for employees. A Kaiser Family Health survey on loneliness and isolation found that 22% of adults said that they always or often feel lonely, and 58% of those said it impacted their mental health. Now, with more remote work and the pandemic, between 22% and 35% of employees are experiencing symptoms of depression. The toll of loneliness, depression, and other mental health conditions is high, impacting well-being and productivity. Offering virtual health mental health support can give remote employees the help they need while also signaling that the company values both their physical and mental health.
Another consideration when building your benefits package is ensuring that mental health support is integrated throughout other benefits offerings — something critically important with experiences in areas like fertility.
Offer flexible fertility and family-forming benefits
A fertility and family-forming benefit that covers all paths to parenthood equally signals to your employees that your organization supports all definitions of “family.” Yet, it’s important to keep in mind that not all fertility benefits are the same. Most traditional health insurance fertility coverage is limited to infertility — a definition that excludes LGBTQ+ couples, single intending parents, and anyone pursuing parenthood outside of a heterosexual coupling. According to Family Equality, 63% of same-sex couples said they are interested in starting families — but with traditional health insurance or a limited fertility benefit supporting certain treatment options, these families are often left out. Fertility benefits should also support the various geographies your employees live in to ensure accessibility for all employees. Lastly, you’ll want to look for fertility benefits that consider emotional well-being. Going through fertility treatment and family-forming experiences can be incredibly stressful for employees. In fact, one study found that half of women and 15% of men said that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives. Benefits that integrate mental health support not only offer a better member experience but can help make sure employees feel supported and cared for. As you consider fertility benefits, remember the key components of an inclusive benefit, and look for offerings that can support all definitions of “family.”
Carrot Fertility was built with inclusivity in mind, equally supporting all paths to parenthood for employees worldwide. We also focus on culturally competent care, offering our members to option to request to be matched with a BIPOC provider, as sharing a racial or cultural background with one’s physician has been shown to lead to higher patient satisfaction, better adherence to medications, and better outcomes. Carrot is the only truly global fertility benefits solution with a network that includes 50+ countries and nearly 4,000 clinics and agencies.
Learn more about how fertility and family-forming benefits can support your DEI initiatives.