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How Can Your Business Support LBGTQ+ Families?

by | Employer

Male couple with baby
Male couple with baby

Work-life Balance Opportunities

As employers begin to recognize the benefits that a diverse workplace brings, savvy companies are seeking ways to attract and retain a more diverse workforce. Some of the progress made is due to the changing demographics of the American industrial landscape. As Baby Boomers reach retirement age, Millennials, Gen Xers and Gen Z expectations are increasingly coming into focus for companies. Young workers expect more work-life balance opportunities than their predecessors. Also, the younger workforce needs to work for a company that holds the same values. So, from affinity groups to inclusion-focused lunch-and-learns, there are all sorts of new initiatives surfacing in the benefit offering conversation to address their needs.

Family-Friendly Benefits for a Diverse Workforce

Another trend emerging with a younger workforce is the recent shift towards family-oriented care. These days it’s common for workplaces to boast amenities and innovations that support new and expectant parents. A tour of a modern office might take you by a “mother’s room” where employees can find a quiet reprieve to pump or just take a breather, and many companies are even offering childcare stipends or on-site options. All these initiatives are great steps forward, but companies still must examine their own biases and ask themselves if they are supporting their LGBTQ+ parents and hopeful parents to the same extent. Even just zooming in on the trend of “mother’s rooms”, scrutinizing that language reveals that not all nursing parents identify as mothers. Something as simple as choosing to use inclusive language like “pumping rooms” signals a real commitment to supporting all employees and all kinds of parents.

Inclusive Infertility Care and Family-Forming Benefits 

Of all the new perks available to current and expectant parents in the workplace, sometimes it’s the quietest offering that makes the most significant difference. Families of all shapes and sizes struggle with infertility, and it’s time to recognize that infertility is a workplace matter too. Some estimations put the number of couples experiencing infertility as high as 1 in 6. Imagine how many of your employees might be affected by infertility. Now imagine what that might feel like to work somewhere with no or limited fertility benefits. Excluding the fact that some employees might not even feel like they have the option to pursue treatment without coverage, those who do might feel as if they must keep it to themselves or risk stunting their career. Even considering the number of medical appointments often involved in fertility treatments, it can be highly stressful for employees to keep their experience to themselves. It’s a different story when a workplace benefits package explicitly offers coverage for fertility treatments, and some companies are beginning to understand how valuable these benefits are to their workforce. While it’s true that some benefits packages today have started to cover fertility treatments, less than half of all American employers are offering more inclusive comprehensive infertility and family forming benefits. Even the ones that do, despite their best intentions, might unintentionally exclude hopeful parents. As with many unconscious biases, this happens when our view of what a family looks like is narrower than many realities. People from all walks of life seek out fertility treatments, including LGBTQ+ individuals and families, but many policies exclude them. Many women in same-sex couples experience infertility, but they may face obstacles to accessing their benefits appropriately. In some instances, even receiving a diagnosis of infertility may stipulate a waiting period of one year wherein hopeful parents are expected to try conceiving naturally. A same-sex couple experiencing infertility is delayed or even barred from accessing coverage with hurdles like that in place.

Comprehensive Fertility Benefits That Support DEI

There’s also more to consider about how best to support LGBTQ+ employees with comprehensive benefits packages. The journey into parenthood may look different for people across the gender and sexuality spectrum. Indeed, every hopeful and first-time parenting experience is an emotional one, but even today, far too many LGBTQ+ experiences with family forming are subject to medical and social discrimination. Employers might consider whether they want to be even associated with discrimination, or if they instead want to champion diverse families. Logistically, LGBTQ+ couples and individuals looking to pursue parenthood often have different paths to consider. Many of those paths also need comprehensive infertility benefit solutions beyond traditional health plan coverage. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, parenthood involves at least some degree of medical intervention. Whether that requires surrogacy, re-examining gender-affirming hormone therapies in relation to reproduction, or adding donor sperm to the checklist, if employers are already covering or considering covering fertility treatments, it’s important to consider whether that coverage reflects the realities of all types of families and all types of needs.

Communication is Key to Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Business owners and stakeholders alike have so much to consider as they take steps towards better and more holistic care for their entire staff, including people from the LGBTQ+ community, and that can be overwhelming. No one expects their employer to get it all right all the time, but genuine diversity and inclusion initiatives are long overdue. Diverse workforces are more productive and better able to retain their talent than less diverse ones. Still, it’s up to organizations to expect and implement policies and offer benefits that work for all their employees. That said, they don’t have to do it alone. Countless digital and human resources are available to advise on all the trappings of an inclusive organization, including ensuring a benefits package aligned with diversity and inclusion principles. There’s also likely untapped expertise within the existing staff. Why not open communication channels between senior management and the workforce at large? After all, those diverse voices will be so helpful in identifying blind spots that should be corrected in an otherwise comprehensive plan. Then, once a company takes the plunge and invests in initiatives supporting their entire staff to make parenting and fertility choices that work for them, the next step is making sure all those investments are effectively communicated to all employees. Ensure that there are ample educational opportunities for staff to understand all the possibilities available. An informed workforce is a happier workforce.

Related Articles:

Promoting Inclusion and Diversity with Fertility Benefits
Adoption Benefits: The Forgotten Side of Fertility Benefits
Male Fertility and Corporate Benefits
Employer Strategies to Support the LGBTQ+ Community

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