What Do Benefits Programs Have to Do with D&I?

Employers are taking a broader view of inclusion and diversity and embedding their D&I objectives into workplace-culture and benefit programs, as well as employee pay and wellbeing initiatives. That’s according to findings culled from the responses of 535 U.S. employers in Willis Towers Watson’s 2019 Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey.

Over the last three years, according to the survey’s results, a majority of employers (55%) have taken steps to communicate their inclusion and diversity initiatives as they pertain to workplace culture and policies, while nearly three-quarters (73%) indicate they intend to do so over the next three years. Similarly, just over half (51%) have promoted inclusion and diversity endeavors aligned with their benefit programs over the past three years, with more than two-thirds (68%) aiming to do so in the next three years.

Attracting and retaining talent (82%) and driving employee engagement (62%) are the most important factors behind employers taking action to promote inclusion and diversity within their workforce.

“The need to recruit, retain and engage diverse talent in a highly competitive labor market will only accelerate activity over the coming years,” says Rachael McCann, senior director for health and benefits at Willis Towers Watson. “Yet, it isn’t the only reason. We also expect other advantages, such as broader perspectives; better environmental, social and governance metrics; stronger brand recognition; and improved corporate sustainability to deepen organizations’ commitment to inclusion and diversity. Simply put, inclusion and diversity has become a top focus of the C-suite, given the clear link between diverse talent and improved business results.”

Leave-of-absence programs will continue to be a starting point to reinforce inclusion and diversity through benefits. In fact, three-quarters (75%) of respondents have either taken actions on their leave-of-absence programs or plan to this year or next, giving more employees opportunity to balance their unique work/life situation.

“To have real impact, these enhanced policies should live in an inclusive culture that permits employees of all types to access the benefits,” says McCann.

Michael J. O'Brienhttp://
Michael J. O’Brien is former web editor with Human Resource Executive®.