Lindsay Morgia
June 14, 2022

Employee benefits that make your organization more LGBTQ+ inclusive

Pride Month is a special time for the LGBTQ+ community. Pride parades and festivals are opportunities to pay respect to the activists who came before us, celebrate gains in civil rights and social acceptance, and continue to advocate for equal rights and inclusion for all LGBTQ+ people across the country. 

Corporations have often shown their support for Pride Month by:

  • Donating to LGBTQ+ organizations during June
  • Creating Pride-themed merchandise (though profits do not always go to LGBTQ+ groups)
  • Sharing rainbow-themed logos across their social media channels

However, these short-term displays of support can go awry if leaders do not take action to support their LGBTQ+ employees throughout the year. The backlash against Disney after the passage of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill is an example of what can happen when a company’s words of support do not align with its actions. Also, companies that do not create a welcoming, inclusive environment face higher turnover rates, less engagement, and an increased risk of lawsuits due to discrimination.

Perfeqta wants to make sure company leaders understand how they can support LGBTQ+ workers all year by offering inclusive benefits, some of which are listed below. 

Family leave

Company leaders should review the language of their FMLA or other family leave policies to confirm that they have an inclusive definition of “spouse” and account for employees with domestic partners. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation recommends adding language to make sure employees can: 

  • Take time off to care for domestic partners.
  • Take bereavement leave not only for the death of a domestic partner but also for their partner’s immediate family.
  • Take time off to care for their domestic partner’s children, even if the employee is not biologically related to them or has not legally adopted them.

Also, companies should make sure that all employees have an equal amount of paid parental leave time, no matter their gender. For example, Farmers’ Insurance offers workers of all gender identities ten weeks of paid parental leave. These benefits show employees that your company not only recognizes different types of families but actively supports them. Also, providing equal parental leave time helps dismantle traditional gender roles and expectations about who takes care of the family.

Adoption and fertility benefits

Almost 21% of same-sex couples with children have adopted kids, compared to only 2.9% of heterosexual couples, according to a recent United States Census Bureau study. However, financial challenges and legal issues can make the adoption process difficult for any couple. Adoption benefits, such as financial help and connections to legal services, actively support LGBTQ+ and other employees looking to grow their families.

Similarly, LGBTQ+ couples face challenges when accessing fertility treatments to grow their families, like discrimination. It is also rare for small and medium-sized companies to provide coverage for fertility treatments. When companies step in to help, leaders are communicating their commitment to a family-friendly workplace, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

Referrals to LGBTQ+-friendly providers

LGBTQ+ individuals are at a higher risk for certain health problems, including cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers. They also are at increased risk of mental health disorders. Stress, stigma, and discrimination likely play a role in driving these health disparities. It can be challenging to find healthcare providers who are welcoming, inclusive, and understand the LGBTQ+ experience. 

Company leaders can address these issues by helping employees find LGBTQ+-friendly healthcare providers. The Centers for Disease Control provides a list of LGBTQ+ hotlines, referral services, and health clinics by state as a place to start. Also, the nonprofit organization OutCare has a list of 2,000 LGBTQ+-friendly providers in over 50 specialties across the country. HR leaders can also identify local healthcare clinics and other nonprofit organizations to help LGBTQ+ employees find the right provider for their needs. 

Gender-affirming policies and programs

If an employee decides to transition socially or medically, there are several things that company leaders can do to make sure the worker feels supported in the process:

  1. Have a workplace transition plan: The Transgender Law Center (TLC) has developed a Model Transgender Employee Policy for companies. This model includes a template that companies can use to build a workplace transition plan. TLC suggests that these plans should:
  1. Empower trans workers to decide when to disclose their transition.
  2. Make explicit statements about training for colleagues. 
  3. Approve paid leave time for any related medical appointment.
  1. Provide complete coverage for transition services: A 2018 study found that the top reasons transgender people did not seek medical care are financial costs and insurance problems. Covering transitioning expenses shows trans workers that the company values their well-being and will take concrete steps to support their journeys.
  2. Go the extra mile: Salesforce recently announced that in addition to coverage for transition services, trans employees are eligible for a $500 wardrobe reimbursement. Also, Salesforce offers a $1,000 legal fee reimbursement to cover costs like formally changing names on legal documents. These types of benefits can go a long way to support transitioning employees.

Next steps for leaders

Are you ready to improve your company’s support of LGBTQ+ workers? Through programming, consistent listening sessions, and an action-driven roadmap, Perfeqta has worked with dozens of organizations that have transformed their company cultures into workplaces where all employees feel seen, heard, and safe. 

Here’s what our DEI strategic consulting services provide: 

  • A 3-year Strategic DEI Roadmap with prioritized initiatives 
  • A DEI Communications & Engagement Strategy
  • Quarterly DEI trainings to educate employees and nurture inclusive behaviors 
  • Support establishing or refining a DEI Governance Structure 
  • A personal DEI practitioner partnering to support the creation and implementation of the organization’s DEI roadmap 
  • A DEI & Employee Experience Discovery Audit for current state analysis  

If you’re interested in working with Perfeqta for a long-term DEI strategic plan, get in touch with our team here.

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