January 09, 2020
Ensuring a company’s health and benefit programs account for diversity and inclusion is of increasing importance. While most companies share a desire to be inclusive, effective implementation can be a struggle. Bailey was joined by Melissa Engelstad of Accenture to share how companies can promote the implementation of benefits that are truly inclusive.
- Benefits teams should work with their company’s diversity and inclusion colleagues to ensure that benefits are aligned with employees’ needs or expectations. Companies can identify relevant benefits in different categories.
- Providing these benefits requires working with your legal teams one country at a time to ensure compliance and risk mitigation and build relationships with local health insurers to get them comfortable offering transgender benefits actuarially.
- Feedback and Support—Conduct focus groups with people who have used the benefits and ask them about the experience, challenges and friction points. Relevant Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a great resource for focus groups and to promote available benefits.
Defining LGBTQ-Friendly Benefits
- Domestic Partners
- Dependents of Domestic Partners
- Transgender Inclusive
- Drug Formulary (particularly for HIV/AIDS)
- Sperm and Egg Cryo-preservation for Transgender Employees transitioning
- Birth Parent
- Non-Birth Parents
- Caregiving Leave
Transgender Benefits at Accenture
Accenture started their journey in 2011, and is a slow process. While working with their internal legal teams on global efforts one country at a time they are building relationships with their local health insurers to get them comfortable offering transgender benefits.
They discussed that they offer transgender benefits in the following markets
- Full transgender benefits: Argentina, Canada, India, Ireland, the U.K. and the U.S. (largest footprint markets)
- Supplement counseling benefits as national health system offering is robust: France, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain
- In progress: Mexico and Chile
The company also has a point person contact from their D&I team for transgender or gender non-conforming individuals to reach out for benefit support and smooth transition especially if the individual is not out as transgender. The point person educates the manager and clients about use of pronouns and where the individual may use the restroom.
The cost is not expensive. In the U.S., if an individual elected to do every procedure, it could be $175,000, but the claims data does not reflect that. Individuals typically do a few procedures and the transition might be spaced out over a number of years. Also, transgender individuals make up a very small percent of the population. For Accenture, transgender benefits makes up a fraction of a percent of their health care cost spend.
While the benefit is not heavily utilized, the company views it as a recruitment and retention tool especially among their millennial and Generation Z populations because it aligns with their values.
The company has an employer resource group called PRIDE Network. It has a support subgroup of parents with LGBTQ children to share relevant resources.
In Japan, Accenture offers its employees a benefits chatbot (A.I.). What they found is that LGBTQ employees and women considering having a baby prefer to use the chatbot to ensure privacy without having their manager notified about pregnancy or being LGBTQ.
Same-Sex Partner Coverage
At the Business Group’s Global Summit, two companies discussed offering same-sex partner medical benefit coverage where legally allowed. They want to ensure not to put employees and their families at risk.
Two Global Institute member companies offer global gender-neutral leave for new parent:
- Facebook offers 4 months parental leave
- The other company offers primary caregiver leave (13 weeks) and secondary caregiver leave (8 weeks). This overlays on top of whatever local regulations require. The company provides 1 week of emergency leave so they can take care of loved ones as defined by the employee (e.g., family, roommate, grandchild). Emergency Leave is in concert with FMLA leave for applicable circumstances.
The Human Rights Campaign recommends using birth parents versus non-birth parents as trans men (i.e., female-to-male) can give birth to children.
Please note that All Locations include employers whose global presence may be limited to the U.S. and Canada.