As you strive to build an inclusive workplace for all employees, it’s important to evaluate how your policies, perks, and benefits support every group, including the LGBTQIA+ community. While broadly applicable benefits like vacation time and retirement can help everyone in your organization, benefits for LGBTQIA+ employees need to meet their unique and diverse needs.
According to Maven’s State of Family Health Benefits report, over 67% of LGBTIQA+ employees are planning to grow or expand their families in the near future, but nearly one in six had delayed starting a family because their benefits weren’t supportive enough. Whether they’re exploring fertility treatments, navigating the adoption process, or looking for ways to be better parents and partners, employees of this group need support with their physical, mental, and financial well-being during their family journey.
We’ve broken down the top five family benefits for LGBTQIA+ employees in 2022:
What kind of support are LGBTQIA+ employees looking for?
Above all else, your employees are looking for fair and equitable treatment in the workplace, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. However, a survey found that while 63% of same-sex couples said that while they want to start families, they can't because traditional insurance wouldn't cover them. Similarly, a 2018 study found that nearly 50% of people identifying as LGBTQIA+ were not out in the workplace, meaning that you are likely unaware of all the people in your workplace who require inclusive benefits and support.
But the nature of the help needed changes from person to person. For example:
- A same-sex couple may need help navigating the adoption process or finding a surrogacy agency
- A trans person may need help preserving their eggs or sperm before medically transitioning
- A lesbian couple may need help coping with an arduous IVF or IUI process
In other words, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. To truly be inclusive, your benefits need to be flexible enough to cover all family configurations and all paths to parenthood, regardless of how or why an employee chooses that path.
The top five benefits for LGBTQIA+ employees
To best support the needs of your LGBTQIA+ employees, start with where the need for support is clear.
1. 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.
2. Mental health support
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community face significantly higher rates of mental illness, due 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 they 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.
3. 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 DE&I 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 physical, financial, and emotional stress of a challenging journey.
4. Adoption support
Adoption and fostering are the most common choice for lesbian and gay individuals to build their families—in fact, same-sex couples are more likely to adopt than heterosexual couples. However, adoption, especially for same-sex couples, can be an expensive and grueling affair. Navigating interstate and international adoption laws, which can be notoriously discriminatory, is only one part of the mountain that many must climb before adopting.
Providing adoption support resources 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.
5. Career coaching and professional development
While career coaching can benefit all employees, LGBTQIA+ employees face unique challenges and 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.
Maven supports inclusive family benefits
Maven’s digital family health benefit offers all eligible employees access to on-demand, inclusive family care whether they’re planning, growing, or raising their families, including:
- Preconception care
- Adoption and surrogacy support
- Fertility reimbursements
- Mental health
- Career coaching resources
- And more
To find out how Maven can help you build your inclusive family benefit, contact us today.
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