Liz Sheffield

Benefits Programs Boost Diversity — and the Bottom Line

Supporting diversity and inclusion in the workplace isn’t just good for society — it can be good for your business, too. Diversity is a key factor in companies’ financial success and their ability to attract talent, according to research from McKinsey & Company. More specifically, McKinsey found the top 25 percent of businesses for racial and ethnic diversity to be 35 percent more likely than other companies to see financial returns above the national median within their industries. It also concluded that diversity in cultural background, sexual orientation and age makes companies more likely to entice and keep talent.

But while championing inclusion is a great ideal, it can be difficult to find concrete ways to bring about real diversity in the workplace. Benefits programs are one way for an organization to show that it supports diversity and that a wide array of candidates would feel welcome in the company’s work environment. When examining benefits options through the lens of diversity, consider the following simple ways to address the needs of your current and future employees.

Options for Same-Sex Couples

If an employer offers health care coverage to opposite-sex spouses, it must also provide coverage to same-sex spouses. But organizations can move past simply following requirements by considering how
they can extend the benefits available to all domestic partnerships.

For example, offering adoption benefits could address the needs of many employees, including some of those in same-sex relationships. Additionally, consider working with your insurance provider to see if your company’s health insurance plans have any in-network doctors who specialize in LGBTQ health care. If so, make that information easily accessible to employees.

Complementary and Integrative Medicine

The National Institutes of Health found that Americans spent a total of $30.2 billion out of pocket on complementary health approaches in 2016, and the popularity of these treatments isn’t likely to decline any time soon. Many people rely on these alternative methods and treatments because they align with their values, beliefs and health care philosophies.

Providing employees with access to treatments like yoga, massage therapy and acupuncture helps demonstrate inclusivity in your organization’s approach to health care options. Start small by sponsoring a yoga night after work or giving out an acupuncture session as an incentive in a company wellness program.

Elder and Child Care Services

While young millennials may be taking over the workforce, it’s likely that a large portion of your staff is responsible for someone else, whether it be a younger dependent, such as a child, or an older one, such as a parent. In some cases, these employees may have families who belong to lower socioeconomic classes — or to cultures where intergenerational households are more common. By providing choices for elder and child care services, you can take some of the weight off of these employees and create an inclusive work environment free of stress over how to care for a loved one.

Don’t worry if you dislike the idea of creating an on-site day care program, as some companies have done — there are certainly less hands-on solutions, like offering a dependent care flexible spending account.

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It’s impossible to anticipate every need or health care issue that potential or existing employees may have, so make sure to keep an open line of communication with workers by regularly sending out a survey — or even just by reminding employees how to pass on their concerns or ideas. Until then, introducing these three benefits is a great way to start making diversity and inclusion in the workplace a priority.

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