LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace isn’t just the right thing to do; it is imperative for employee retention and for attracting skilled candidates to your company. Moreover, inclusivity promotes a better organisational culture and employee well-being.
An estimated 3.1% of the UK population aged 16 years and over identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB). When it comes to the workplace, however, more than a third of staff have hidden that they are LGBT for fear of discrimination and 81% have experienced a mental health issue, compared with 61% of the general workforce.
Ensuring that your employee benefits include LGBTQ+ workers and actually meet their needs can make a significant difference in how safe and happy they feel at work. In this article, we look more closely at how to make sure your current offerings are LGBTQ+ inclusive and how to implement employee benefits that offer equity to all.
Use inclusive language
The language that you choose to use in the workplace, including when talking, in written communications and in company documents, is fundamental to being an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace. Using inclusive language acknowledges and respects the diversity of your employees whilst also contributing to their sense of belonging.
When it comes to employee benefits, LGBTQ+ inclusive language ensures that everyone can be part of the conversation. Plus, it gives your staff confidence that if you are talking about benefits in an inclusive manner, the benefits themselves are likely to be inclusive too.
When discussing employee benefits, and creating policies and resources, it can be beneficial to keep these points at the forefront:
- Ask members of staff what their pronouns are
- Avoid addressing groups of people as ‘ladies and gentlemen’ as it insinuates every employee identifies as one or the other; phrases such as ‘Hello everyone’ are more inclusive
- Use gender-neutral words, for example, ‘humankind’ instead of ‘mankind’ and ‘post clerk’ instead of ‘mailman’
- Use plural pronouns (they/them) in informal communications and when talking about a theoretical person
- Refrain from using gender-biased expressions or phrases that reinforce gender stereotypes such as ‘man up’
- Refer to a partner or spouse rather than a wife, husband, girlfriend, or boyfriend
- Use encompassing terms like parental leave instead of maternity or paternity leave
Also bear in mind that inclusive language is ever-changing and so mistakes will happen. When errors do occur, apologise, and take action that shows your commitment to improvement.
Review the suitability of current employee benefits
As employee demographics and their needs change, so should your employee benefits. Regular reviewing and amending of your employee benefits ensures that you are constantly improving your workplace’s inclusivity. It also contributes to achieving your business’s overall objectives, improves productivity and increases staff engagement.
One of the easiest ways to establish whether your company offers truly LGBTQ+ inclusive employee benefits is to seek feedback from your employees. Create an online or offline survey that your employees can answer honestly and anonymously. Use these insights to implement positive change now and plan for the future too.
When it comes to determining whether current employee benefits are LGBTQ+ inclusive, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are these benefits fit for purpose?
- Are these benefits utilised?
- Does every member of staff know how to access these benefits?
- Can every member of staff access them the same way and with the same ease?
- Do the benefits on offer favour heterosexual or ‘traditional’ family types?
- How can we help employees make informed decisions when using these benefits?
Implement LGBTQ+ inclusive employee benefits
After reviewing your current employee benefits, you might find that some require changes to become LGBTQ+ inclusive. Alternatively, you may determine that your current offerings aren’t suitable, and you need to implement new employee benefits.
There is a vast range of employee benefits to choose from. However, these are our pick of the top LGBTQ+ inclusive employee benefits that are worth considering if you want to boost your company’s reputation and truly make a difference to the wellbeing of your employees:
70% of trans people report being impacted by transphobia when accessing general health services so there is arguably a need for access to inclusive medical practitioners through workplace health benefits.
For your employee health benefits to be LGBTQ+ inclusive, they need to enable staff to receive personalised care which is affirmative and respectful. While not every trans individual wants or is able to transition, having an employee health benefits programme that supports them to do this if they wish can have a positive impact on their mental health and overall wellbeing.
Gender affirming benefits
Gender-affirming care (GAC) encompasses an array of social, legal, and medical measures that enable individuals to feel happy, safe, and secure in their gender. GAC includes:
- Hormone therapy
- Laser hair removal
- Surgery such as breast augmentation, phalloplasty and mastectomy
- Speech therapy to help match vocal characteristics with gender identity
- Support with changing outward appearance and presentation
- Binding and tucking
However, such measures can be expensive, with private costs ranging from hundreds of pounds to £10,000. Such figures make vital care inaccessible for some. Offering employees access to gender-affirming care as part of your employee benefits package can contribute significantly to their well-being by reducing dysphoria and allowing them to live as their authentic selves.
Mental health support
LGBTQ+ individuals are 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety and substance misuse disorders compared to heterosexual individuals. Therefore, comprehensive mental health support can make a significant difference to your employees.
There are numerous ways in which you can support the mental health of LGBTQ+ employees including:
- Access to GP appointments
- Funded talking therapies
- Provide mental health resources, education, and training to all employees
- Signpost to charities, support groups and other LGBTQ+ community organisations
- Promote inclusion through workplace policies, programs, and practices
- Subscriptions to apps
- Mental health days
Domestic partner benefits
Your employee benefits can be inclusive of all family types, including domestic partnerships. Not only can such benefits help create a diverse and supportive workplace, but they can also improve employee work-life balance and reduce financial burdens.
Domestic partner benefits ensure that an employee’s partner, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender or marital status can be included in the same way as a heterosexual spouse. Domestic partner benefits can encompass:
- Health insurance
- Dental insurance
- Eye care
- Accident and life insurance
- Parental leave
- Bereavement leave
- Family sick leave
- Subsidised travel
Family building benefits
The 2019 Family Building Survey found that 63% of LGBTQ+ millennials were considering expanding their family yet only 37% were considering intercourse as the method for doing so.
In fact, becoming a parent can often be much more complex for LGBTQ+ people than non-LGBTQ+ people. This is because it is far more common for those in LGBTQ+ relationships to not have the biological components required for conception (eggs, sperm, and a uterus).
This means that for LGBTQ+ people, other methods of family building are often sought such as assisted reproductive technology such as IUI or IVF, adoption, fostering and surrogacy.
Having a family-building policy alongside inclusive fertility benefits will give non-heterosexual couples the chance to start a family in the way they want to, without the significant financial burden that fertility treatment can bring, all whilst feeling supported and understood.
Your family-building policies should outline the time off that individuals can have for fertility treatment, adoption-related appointments and once their child becomes part of their family. You should ensure that parental leave for LGBTQ+ employees is equal to that of non-LGBTQ+ employees.
Here you can learn more about supporting LGBTQ+ employees with fertility.
At Apryl, we can help you to implement LGBTQ+ inclusive fertility benefits for employees, covering everything from preliminary diagnostics and testing through to IVF and sperm and egg freezing. If you’re ready to elevate your employee benefits, empower your staff and lead the way as an LGBTQ+ supportive employer, get in touch today to discuss fertility in the workplace.