Although companies are being more vocal outward about diversity, there is still a strong disconnect between external communications and internal policies. Data from a recent survey shows that diverse employees are less likely to feel like they belong at work.“The largest and overarching theme in our diversity report had to do with marginalized Canadians deriving a high sense of well-being from work, even though many feel they don’t belong in these spaces,” said Ryan Hughes, vice-president and head of strategy at Humanity.
49% of diverse employees said that they feel as though making a mistake at work was held against them more than it would have been for a non-diverse coworker. With diverse employees wanting to be a part of an inclusive and forward-thinking workplace environment, they also want the same inclusion and company culture to be reflected in their benefits plans. Adaptations such as implementing inclusive perks and benefits, a remote-work policy, and leading by example as an employer all contribute to creating an inclusive workplace.
Plan members who identify as part of an equity-seeking group, including Black Canadians, Indigenous people, LGBTQ2S+ employees and employees living with a disability require inclusion in their benefits package. The lack of inclusion and feeling of belonging can cause diverse employees to view their organization’s group benefits plan negatively and not utilize their current benefits, furthering the gap of exclusion. It is more important now than ever to highlight your staff’s diverse needs when looking at choosing the right group benefits plan, and implement employment equality, diversity and inclusion.
Making your Workplace and Benefits Package More Inclusive
Building a workplace where employees are able to bring their full self into the workplace and not have to fear being looked down upon with a bias from coworkers or even senior management due to their diverse background is essential. Currently there’s a push coming from employees for this change, but there are also many benefits for the employer to aim to achieve diversity in the workplace. Organization’s get a fresh array of perspectives by bringing in employees with diverse cultural backgrounds which can further lead to benefits such as better team problem solving and an increase in productivity. Not only does increasing workplace diversity increase productivity and create stronger employee innovation, but it has also been known to increase overall business profits.
Small changes can make a large impact in achieving a more diverse workplace. Making adjustments to your benefit plans is a great way to put your words into action. Here are a few items that you can consider adding into to your benefit plan and policies:
Adding in extension of coverage for fertility related challenges should include surrogacy as well as IVF medications or procedures
Implementing flexible statutory holidays to recognize non-Christian religious holidays such as Yom Kippur, Eid, or Diwali. This allows for employees of diverse backgrounds to celebrate their own holidays with time off
Offering of quiet or prayer rooms and ensuring that the physical work space is as barrier free as possible
Provision of robust mental health resources and coverage limits to assist communities such as LGBTQ who may be in greater need of support
Inclusion of coverage for indigenous health practitioners or other non-standard practitioners in paramedical descriptions or in Healthcare Spending Accounts
Inclusion of addiction support services
Addition of food related benefits such as nutrition counselling, or healthy snacks/meals being provided in the workplace
Including coverage for obesity medication in benefit plans
Adapting a hybrid or remote working model as diverse employees report employee experience and inclusion is higher when on a hybrid working model.
Ways to Promote Diversity, Equality and Inclusion in the workplace
Lead by example.Molson Coors Beverage Co, a Canadian brewing company, extended full coverage to Canadian employees and their dependents seeking gender affirmation surgery. Implementing gender affirmation benefits packages not only attracts diverse employees, but it will also attract ally’s that align with the overall company values. “We have a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and one of our key values is putting people first — this was just another step in that direction,” says Michael Nordman, senior community affairs manager at Molson Coors.
Start the conversation. Although the topic of diversity is becoming more mainstream, it is important to encourage employees to start the conversation about how diversity and inclusion can be implemented into benefits plans. Inclusive language being used around these programs is important and making information that would be relevant for diverse employees easily accessible is key. For example, most insurers have updated their enrolment processes to include the ability for employees to apply for benefits using their preferred gender identity including non-binary. Start the conversation and break the ice instead of putting the onus of the diverse employees to dig for information that’s relevant to them.
Listen to feedback. Collecting employee feedback from anonymous surveys or feedback boxes opens up the opportunity for employees to voice their opinions about diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace without fearing an unconscious bias being formed about their opinions, especially if they do not align with the majority of the group’s opinions.
Diversity, Equality and Inclusion are integral to your group benefits plans in order to attract, retain and value diversity within your organization. Modern times call for modern benefits solutions- which may require the implementation of new procedures to ensure diverse staff members' needs are being met in a fair and equitable manner. At Montridge Advisory Group, our dedicated team members are here to help you create a group benefits plan that makes you stand out as a top employer within your industry and attract and retain high quality, diverse employees.
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