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Creating greater support for diversity and inclusion with group insurance

Modern work environments shouldn’t just be about having kitsch, funky work spaces. It’s also about creating a non-physical environment that supports the changing face of the people who work within your office. Diversity and inclusion goals are becoming more and more common in today’s workplaces for the benefits they bring – but have you considered whether your employee benefits or group insurance works with those goals?

In this week’s article, Pacific Prime highlights the key things you need to know when it comes to understanding how a well designed employee benefits strategy can help your company meet its diversity and inclusion goals.

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What is diversity and inclusion?

Diversity at work is the use of any dimension to differentiate groups and people from one another, done so in a way to empower people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different. It goes beyond the simple act of tolerance by learning to truly value differences for the various benefits they can offer; whether it’s on a personal colleague-to-colleague level, or on a wider company scale.  

Inclusion in the workplace relates to efforts and practices within an organization to not only accept but welcome and treat equally different groups or individuals of different backgrounds. When done correctly, every staff member should feel a sense of belonging within a company – not just as a worker with a role to perform, but as a person whose experiences and perspectives might be different from the majority, but are still relevant in their own right.

Differences can be by age, gender, race and ethnicity, religion, physical ability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin. The key to diversity and inclusion is ensuring that people are safe to recognize but appreciate the differences between each other without bias or intolerance, making for a safer and happier modern working environment.

The benefits of diversity and inclusion

Promoting a more diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t just a feel good exercise. According to research by McKinsey, there are a number of tangible productivity benefits for businesses – companies with a healthy balance of both men and women are 15% more likely to outperform others, and those with greater racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to do better than their industry averages.

The unequal performance of companies in the same industry and country implied that diversity is a competitive differentiator that moves market share away from less diverse companies. The reason more diverse companies were said to do better was because of these key advantages:

  • Increasing talent pools for all levels of recruiting
  • Orienting their business with a wider consumer/customer base
  • Improving staff satisfaction and culture
  • Fostering innovation and creativity through multiple, differing perspectives
  • Enhancing the company’s reputation and meeting local equity legislation

Consider, for example, global giant Johnson & Johnson who have invested a lot of resources into creating a Global Diversity and Inclusion vision, including various rewards and recognitions that have seen the company lauded by the U.S. Veterans Magazine and placed on the Working Mother 100 Best list for the past 28 years. The first quarter of this year has seen J&J’s revenue increase by 13% this year to USD 20 billion.

Kaiser Permanente, similarly, has a staff of more than 177,500 worldwide – and nearly 60% of those employees are people of color. The staffing statistics also boast an even 50/50 gender split on their executive team and around one-third of their physicians are female. It has ranked in the Top 5 of DiversityInc’s best list for the past six years, and recently received the Women’s Choice Award for top insurance and hospital in California.

Why consider group insurance as part of a diversity and inclusion strategy?

A diversity and inclusion platform usually tells your staff something very clear: We care about you – who you are and what you bring to this company. It’s a great message to have and even better when your company has an external reputation for being welcoming. However, all that good work can be undone if certain things don’t align with that strategy, and your employee benefits and group insurance can be one of those things.

According to a study by Employee Benefits/Xerox HR Services Benefits, only 24% of businesses in 2016 considered diversity and inclusion as a key issue shaping their employe benefits strategy. Goals such as improving employee engagement and being seen as the employer of choice ranked much higher (between 60-70% for the year), indicating that some businesses didn’t yet see the related link between all three.

Here, Pacific Prime outlines some key consideration points for businesses and HR staff that might be reviewing how their group insurance and employee benefits platform interacts with their diversity and inclusion goals:

Benefits for different life stages

Whilst Millennials are growing in numbers at many workplaces around the world, it’s worth remembering that there are many Baby Boomers still employed in senior positions. Gen X are also an important group to consider as many of them are now reaching the peak managerial positions of their careers, and all three groups will value specific types of benefits differently.

Features such as health coverage for dependents might be more valued by older managerial staff with children – particularly if you have employees that move their entire families around the world to take up global assignments. Younger staff may prefer more flexible benefit types, or be interested in wellness options but may also benefit from company guidance in terms of securing preventative health measures as well.

Covering non-Western medicine practices

Companies with offices not in the West may be familiar with the fact that not every person in the world seeks medical treatment from a Western doctor. For example, places like Hong Kong, Singapore, and China have local staff that may often prefer Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners over a Western-trained General Practitioner. In India, the traditional Ayurvedic treatments only recently became covered by insurance, provided they’re from specific facilities.

Generally, group insurance and employee benefits cover standard Western medical treatments. Wherever your company or its offices are in the world, however, there can be products offered that can include non-Western approaches to match the demand of more local people. Providing an employee benefits plan that doesn’t cover what people will use can quickly lose relevance and value.

Recognizing gender differences in benefits

If creating a greater gender balance is part of your company’s goals, then ensuring the benefits match your hiring and talent management strategies is important. Women and men have many medical needs in common, however there are a number of gender-specific medical concerns that are not. Taking into account the sorts of health needs of both can be a good way to not only attract top performers of both genders, but also to foster loyalty and commitment.

Maternity insurance can be a good benefit for both men and women, but especially for female workers. Men’s health initiatives include awareness for things like prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease. A diversity and inclusion aware employee benefits plan doesn’t necessarily mean having specific targeted benefits per gender. It might just be tailoring an inpatient and outpatient plan to include decent coverage levels for particular health issues.

Support for physical and mental disabilities

Companies with staff that are differently-abled physically can sometimes find it hard to secure coverage for them depending on the circumstances. For group insurance plans that have Medical History Disregarded, this may not be an issue as the employee may still be entitled to most, if not all, benefits that fully-abled bodied staff enjoy. Those plans that underwrite individual employees may exclude or outright deny coverage to those with physical disabilities.

Mental health is another big issue around the globe and one that the insurance industry itself is putting greater focus on. It’s entirely possible for companies to offer varying levels of mental health support in their employee benefits package, but it depends to what extent they want to offer that support. Benefits can be medical or pastoral, such as Employee Assistance Programs that offer counselling services.

For either physical or mental disability support, the options available to companies can largely depend on the situation. Where your group insurance plan includes catering for special circumstances, it can be best to contact an employee benefits specialist to assist with plan design.

Getting support for all types of diversity and inclusion goals with your group insurance

There are obviously more considerations and a wider range of goals your company might be looking to achieve with support of its employee benefits platform. As each company is different – and their goals for diversity and inclusion are too – it makes sense to engage the services of an employee benefits specialist like Pacific Prime.

Whether it’s accounting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, or any of the other potential differences your diverse staff might have, Pacific Prime is the best choice to help you align your group insurance with other business goals. In fact, our team has created a guide to structuring your employee benefits that you can download free to get you started. When it comes to taking it a step further and accounting for diversity and inclusion goals, talk to us directly.

Our expert team can sit with your company and help you plan and design the best fitting benefits package to meet your business goals. To arrange a meeting with one of our advisors, contact the team at Pacific Prime today!

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