Diversity and inclusion have been buzzwords for some time but have recently become widely adopted. As a benefit plan sponsor, you have the unique opportunity to support diversity and inclusivity through the benefits and retirement savings plans you provide to your employees. But what does that mean, exactly? This blog will explore why supporting diversity with group benefits and retirement plans matters and how you can do it.
First, let’s talk about why diversity matters. Diversity in the workplace means having a workforce of people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. When an organization values, embraces and supports variety, it can increase creativity, innovative thinking, and better decision-making. A diverse workforce also allows companies to understand better and serve various clients and communities. Research shows that diverse teams are more profitable, with companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.1
The role of group benefits and retirement savings plans
Group benefits and retirement savings plans can significantly support diversity and inclusion in the workplace. When designing your plans, it’s essential to consider the needs and preferences of a diverse workforce.
Examples of group benefits coverage supporting a diverse group of employees include:
- Gender affirmation surgery coverage such as Adam’s apple reduction, voice surgery, facial bone reduction, and cheek augmentation
- Hormone therapy and medication coverage
- Mental health support such as access to mental health professionals, extended health benefit paramedical coverage, and Employee and Family Assistance Programs (EFAP)
- Flexible work arrangements can also help accommodate employees’ schedules and caregiving responsibilities
- Addition of non-traditional practitioners such as Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopath, acupuncturist, and hypnotherapy (via HCSA only)
- Addition of medical marijuana
- Family support via expanded EFAP offerings and counselling services via marriage and family therapists
Although incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion is more prevalent from a group benefits plan perspective, an example of a plan design feature that supports diversity and inclusivity in your retirement savings plan is:
- Investment options (e.g., adding Sharia funds, incorporating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework into investment menu selection and monitoring process)
By offering a variety of benefits, companies can create an environment where all employees feel valued and supported.
Best practices for supporting diversity with group benefits and retirement savings plans
When it comes to supporting diversity with group benefits, some best practices can help. First, consider creating a benefits/retirement committee comprised of employees from diverse backgrounds to ensure the plans reflect the workforce’s needs. Avoid the assumption that all employees have the same requirements by offering a range of benefits and communication that is multicultural and multilingual, both in the words and images used. Finally, follow up on the benefits provided to gauge participation and satisfaction rates, continually re-evaluating the benefits offered to ensure their effectiveness.
The impact of diversity on health and wellness
Studies show that a diverse workforce can positively influence employee health and wellness. For example, a diverse work environment can reduce stress, build social networks, and provide support and understanding around mental and physical health issues. By cultivating a work culture that values and embraces diversity through group benefits and retirement savings plans, employees are likelier to feel a sense of community and connection, increasing job satisfaction and overall well-being.
Creating a workplace culture where everyone’s supported
Employers play a crucial role in supporting diversity and inclusion. By recognizing and accommodating the diverse needs of employees, companies can create a more innovative, healthy, and productive workforce.
Contact your Cowan consultant to learn more about how you can support workplace diversity with your group benefits and retirement savings plans.
1 Hunt, D., Layton, D., Prince, S. (January 1, 2015). Why diversity matters. Retrieved from URL.