What are the benefits of inclusion in the workplace?
Traditional healthcare systems aren't built to support LGBTQIA+ people and their families. From antiquated laws around adoption to stigma surrounding different pathways to parenthood, LGBTQIA+ people on their family journey are at an increased risk for discrimination and a lack of clarity and empathy from providers.
Inclusive benefits are crucial for LGBTQIA+ employees, combatting gaps in the traditional healthcare system. Employers who invest in these benefits make a tangible difference in the lives of employees while also reducing fertility and pregnancy-related healthcare costs. In order to remain competitive, retain talent, and improve diversity and inclusion, employers should design an equitable and employee benefits package that support all paths to and through parenthood.
The step-by-step checklist for designing an inclusive benefits package that empowers LGBTQIA+ parents
Evaluate and update your current offerings
Measure your existing fertility and family-building benefits policies
Do they allow for equitable access and coverage for LGBTQIA+ individuals, couples, and single parents? What offerings do you have to support adoption, surrogacy, or fertility treatments? Does your plan require a diagnosis of infertility for coverage? How does that requirement impact same-sex couples' access? Does it provide domestic partner benefits as well?
Survey your employees
Ask your employees about their experiences with your existing healthcare benefits and policies, wellness benefits, resources, and other internal programs to identify where there are gaps. Partner with your LGBTQIA+ employee resource group (ERG) and solicit employee feedback on how to improve or expand your benefits offerings to meet diversity and inclusion needs.
Update your existing benefits
Revisit the language in your benefits materials
Audit the materials and training provided to your employees about your benefits and policies. Adjust phrases that may be gendered, exclusionary, or heteronormative. For example, you may want to use terms like “birthing parent” instead of “mother” to avoid excluding pregnant employees who may not identify as women.
Update your parental leave and return-to-work policies
Your company should offer the same paid parental leave to all employees, whether they're a birthing parent or non-birthing parent, or if they grow their families through adoption and surrogacy.
Expand family-building reimbursements
Many companies are now offering reimbursements or stipends for fertility treatments. Ensure that your reimbursements cover fertility treatments for all families, not just those with an infertility diagnosis. Expanding coverage to include financial support for adoption and surrogacy can also help foster a more inclusive environment.
Fill gaps in care and expand coverage
Provide inclusive employee benefits that support LGBTQIA+ individuals throughout their family journey
Family building can be more complex and costly for LGBTQIA+ employees, as they may have to navigate legal, financial, and emotional barriers. Your family benefits should offer personalized and affirming care at every step of their journey.
Expand access to specialized mental health support
Starting a family can be both joyous and challenging. Offer employees mental health care to support them along their family journey, with providers that have experience supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.
Increase opportunities for care matching
Audit your employee benefits solutions to ensure providers are trained in gender-affirming and culturally-conscious care. Consider augmenting your existing offerings in this area, as care matching improves health outcomes among historically marginalized communities.
Create a supportive culture for a diverse workforce
Provide trusted resources and community
Offer on-demand, clinically-vetted resources that help your employees learn along their family journey. Consider providing employees with virtual classes or meet-ups where they can connect with peers at similar stages of the family-building process.
Educate managers and employees
Consider implementing manager training, company-wide education, and resources to help employees better understand LGBTQIA+ experiences at home and at work.
The top five inclusive benefits for LBGTQIA+ employees
To best support the needs of your LGBTQIA+ employees, start with where the need for comprehensive care is clear.
1. Fertility and family-building care
Considering more than 60% of LGBTQIA+ people plan to use assisted reproductive technology to grow or build their families, fertility and family-building care is a crucial yet underserved need. Fertility benefits are already an integral piece in any DEI strategy, but there are many different ways you can create a family-building benefit. The treatments, costs, and needs of your employees will vary based on their chosen path to parenthood, namely:
- IUI or IVF with donor eggs or sperm
- Using a surrogate through an agency
- Preserving or restoring fertility
Consequently, there are three major components of a fertility benefit that apply to the needs of LGBTQIA+ individuals:
- Preconception care (which includes testing, treatment, and fertility preservation)
- Access to and coverage for high-quality clinics that specialize in LGBTQIA+ care
- Treatment subsidies and/or reimbursements
Providing support for these aspects of fertility can ensure your employees are getting the support and assistance they need to build their families with dignity, so they can better manage the clinical, emotional, and financial stress of a joyous yet challenging journey.
2. Adoption support
Adoption and fostering are the most common choice for LGBTQIA+ individuals to build their families, with same-sex couples more likely to adopt than heterosexual couples. However, adoption, especially for same-sex couples, can be an expensive and biased affair. Navigating interstate and international adoption laws, which can be notoriously discriminatory, is only one hurdle that many must overcome before adopting.
Providing adoption benefits like coaching, mental health support, and subsidies or reimbursements for costs related to adoption (which can include legal fees, agency fees, and travel/accommodations), can go a long way in reducing the burden of stress on employees pursuing this path to parenthood.
3. Mental health support
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community face significantly higher rates of mental health challenges, due in part to discrimination, social and familial rejection, harassment, and violence. Members of this community are also subject to inadequate mental health care, which often groups them together without respect to the unique needs of each sub-community.
When LGTBQIA+ individuals start building families, they (like anyone else) need personalized mental health support for their lived experiences, whether they’re struggling to find a match through their adoption agency, dealing with multiple rounds of IVF, or navigating transitioning while pregnant. Providing access to a network of inclusive, LGBTQIA+-friendly mental health support can help your employees find the culturally-humble care they need to safeguard their mental health through the family-building journey.
4. Paid parental leave
Studies show that fewer than one in four Americans have access to paid family leave, and only 56% of the workforce is eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections. While some localities offer paid family leave protections (like California), laws vary between states and cities. At companies that do offer paid family leave, many programs differentiate maternity and paternity leave, or primary and secondary caregiver leave. Often, paid leave isn’t extended to employees adopting children, delivering via surrogacy, or grieving pregnancy or infant loss.
To support LGBTQIA+ employees, consider making your paid leave equitable across all employees, regardless of their family configuration or any antiquated “primary” and “secondary” designations. Paid leave can give all your employees, regardless of their path to parenthood, financial security and comfort during the transformative postpartum period.
5. Career coaching and professional development
While career coaching can benefit all employees, LGBTQIA+ employees face unique circumstances that may require different approaches. For example, they may need support in learning how to navigate the workplace while coming out, navigating professional conversations, or choosing to socially transition. Career coaches specializing in LGBTQIA+ needs can help your employees improve their productivity and feel comfortable with their long-term future in your organization.
Investing in career coaching resources, whether through a partnership with a coaching organization or through an on-demand virtual platform, can go a long way in showing your LGBTQIA+ employees that you value both their health and their career growth.
The tangible benefits of workplace inclusion
By embracing diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace through inclusive employee benefits, organizations cultivate belonging and reap significant benefits.
- Diverse teams drive results: Hiring employees with varied perspectives allows companies to benefit from innovative ideas and strategies, fostering adaptability and competitiveness. Research backs up the benefits of diversity and inclusion: McKinsey found that diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones by 35%.
- Inclusive companies stay competitive: 67% of job seekers consider diversity and inclusion a crucial factor when evaluating job offers. Inclusive companies can attract top-notch candidates, boosting their reputation and long-term growth.
- Inclusivity increases engagement: Inclusive workplaces encourage empathy, support, and engagement. Understanding and respecting each employee's needs fosters effective collaboration and increased employee engagement. Gallup found that highly engaged teams have 59% lower turnover rates, reducing turnover costs and increasing productivity.
Industry insights and trends in inclusive employee benefits
Building inclusive employee benefits isn't a one-and-done activity. Employers need to stay up-to-date on industry trends, ensuring that they continue to meet the evolving needs of their workforce through their inclusive benefits package. Current trends in benefits include:
- Flexibility in your benefits package: Flexibility is the name of the game, especially in high-demand fields where you will compete with other companies for top talent. One way several multinational companies embed flexibility into their benefits strategy is by offering personalized benefits. In fact, a recent study found that 69% of respondents were exploring or implementing more flexible employee benefits. Unlike traditional employee benefits, personalized benefits provide care for employees based on their individual needs—taking a “one-size-fits-one” approach to care.
- An emphasis on health and wellness: Employers want to provide a customized experience in health and wellness. A Willis Towers Watson survey found that 86% of companies prioritized health and wellness for their current and future employee benefits strategy.
- Technology bridging the gap in benefits: Advancements in health tech opened the door for employers to facilitate a number of exciting benefits, such as telehealth. Virtual benefits such as on-demand primary care, virtual mental health support, and at-home testing are convenient and widen the access to healthcare services for employees, regardless of location.
Implementing equitable and inclusive family-building benefits
LGBTQIA+ employees want—and need— more inclusive benefits. As the leading women's and family health company, Maven is uniquely positioned to support employees along their parenting journey, no matter their path to and through parenthood. To learn more about how Maven can help you provide equitable and inclusive benefits to your employees, schedule a demo today.
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