To highlight inclusivity during Pride month, we caught up with two National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) personnel who have worked hard to implement fertility benefits for LGBTQ+ staff. Charles Crain, Senior Director, Tax & Domestic Economic Policy, and Jennifer Littlepage, Human Resources Benefits Manager, shed light on their experiences with ARC fertility benefits and their positive impact on becoming a parent.
How did you feel when you first learned that the fertility benefits at NAM were not inclusive, and what motivated you to speak up about the issue?
Charles Crain: I brought this issue to HR. I wanted to give Jennifer the ammunition to go up her reporting chain and share the impact that the exclusionary benefit had on LGBTQ+ employees. Everyone took the issue very seriously, and I was impressed with how senior leadership was willing to work toward a solution. It made me feel that the association understood the challenges facing queer employees and reminded me of the importance of speaking up on behalf of the queer community.
Can you share your experience using ARC fertility benefits and how they impacted your parenthood journey?
Charles Crain: My husband and I are using surrogacy and IVF to grow our family, and prior to this year the NAM’s fertility benefit did not cover any aspects of our journey to parenthood. It was limited to couples with medical infertility, effectively excluding any LGBTQ+ employees.
Not being eligible for the previous benefit was frustrating and very costly. But the NAM was willing to make a change, and now the ARC benefit provides financial support for all employees equally. I’m thankful to be able to put a dent in the high costs that queer people face in becoming parents.
As the benefits administrator at NAM, what prompted you to reassess and update the fertility benefits to be more inclusive for LGBTQ+ employees?
Jennifer Littlepage: Charles presented a compelling case that deeply affected my boss, Nancy Riegle, our Senior Vice President, People Strategy and Culture, and myself. We immediately recognized how we needed to amend our benefits, in line with the Core Values of our organization. The HR team felt we needed additional expertise and capacity to address complex family forming and planning issues, that are very intimate and sensitive to our employees.
Our insurance brokers introduced us to ARC, which offered a comprehensive solution that accommodated various needs without requiring medical determinations from Nancy and me. We wanted to avoid situations where employees would feel uncomfortable sharing personal matters. ARC’s support throughout the entire process and reducing the burden on HR brought great relief. By separating family planning from the medical plan, we could cover a broader range of expenses, catering to different family types and their specific needs, including adoption, surrogacy, legal fees, egg freezing and more.
What has been the impact of working with ARC?
Jennifer Littlepage: Working with ARC has been a cornerstone for us. ARC has excelled in building relationships with clinics beyond its network of providers. An employee who chooses one of the in-network fertility clinics receives reduced rates, which is amazing. From my standpoint as an administrator, the flexibility of ARC to truly meet NAM’s needs in under six months since implementation is remarkable.
How has your employer improved in treating employees equally, and what initiatives have they implemented to support different affinity groups, particularly the LGBTQ+ community?
Charles Crain: You always want your employer to share your values, but actions speak louder than words—and the NAM took concrete action in expanding its fertility benefit to include queer employees. The association also recently launched an employee resource group program, allowing us to establish an ERG for LGBTQ+ employees and allies. The ERG has focused on community-building among queer employees, as well as education opportunities for all NAM staff—including recent events on effective allyship and resources for parents of queer and questioning youth. We’re also having a Pride celebration later this month!
These efforts are emblematic of our employer recognizing that queer employees deserve to be treated equally and to live openly and proudly. It is vital that employers go beyond generic statements of diversity and inclusion and instead actively affirm their LGBTQ+ employees and link arms with them to create a better workplace for queer people.