As you strive to build an inclusive workplace for all employees, it’s important to evaluate how your policies, perks, and benefits support the LGBTQIA+ community. While broadly applicable benefits like vacation time and retirement support can help everyone in your organization, benefits for LGBTQIA+ employees need to meet their unique and diverse needs. 

According to a recent Maven report, over 67% of LGBTIQA+ employees are planning to grow or expand their families in the near future. However, nearly one in six has delayed starting a family because the family benefits offered through their company weren’t supportive enough. Whether they’re exploring fertility treatments, navigating the adoption or surrogacy process, looking for ways to be better parents and partners, or dealing with menopause symptoms, LGBTQIA+ employees need clinical, emotional, and financial support throughout their family and reproductive health journey. 

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, it’s likely that your traditional healthcare benefits aren’t providing them with the same levels of support as other employees. Traditional health insurance often doesn’t cover fertility treatments without a diagnosis of infertility, excluding the vast majority of same-sex couples or individuals pursuing treatment.

The nature of the help needed can vary 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 emotionally 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.

Read more: LGBTQIA+ family building and the workplace: What HR leaders need to know

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The top five benefits for LGBTQIA+ 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 lesbian and gay 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 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.

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 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.

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.

Maven supports inclusive family benefits

As employers look to implement policies and programs to better support LGBTQIA+ employees, Maven is here to help. Maven is the leading women’s and family health company, connecting parents and parents-to-be with the resources they need to thrive on their path to and through parenthood. Through our solution, parents can access on-demand mental healthcare, 24/7 specialist support, clinically vetted content, career coaches, and community groups of their peers.

To find out how Maven can help you build your inclusive family benefit, contact us today.

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