How Benefits Fit into Your DEI Strategy
For Your Benefit - April 2022
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts have become an essential component of banks’ strategy, especially in this current highly competitive environment for talented individuals. As you review the composition of your board and executive team members and current recruiting practices, don’t forget to also review your employee benefit offerings with a lens towards DEI. Employees are now looking for workplaces where they feel valued, welcomed and included. Aligning benefits offerings that reflect this culture is more important than ever before.
A 2021 Willis Towers Watson survey found that 72% of employers were planning to promote DEI elements of their benefits programs in the next three years, which is more than double the number that did so the prior few years. This increase was accelerated by the pandemic as well as the racial justice spotlight following the death of George Floyd in 2020. The survey stated that employers have taken action in a number of areas, including expansion of maternity and family planning programs as well as evaluating the quality of social determinants of health factors, such as appropriate access to healthcare providers and preventive care and screening visits.
Where should you start to incorporate DEI into your employee benefit offerings? One emerging trend a focus on “family benefits” rather than “employee benefits”. Most companies offer the core benefits but may need to take it a step further to be more inclusive. All benefits come with a price tag - some more costly than others – so before implementing a strategy, engage in thoughtful consideration and thorough analysis, including a review of your employee demographics. This will allow you to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of each initiative, weighing the potential cost with the perceived value to employees. Below you will find some examples of additional things to consider when evaluating your current benefits offerings.
As an employer, you must offer healthcare options to your employees; however, here are some additional things to think about:
- Are you paying a portion of the costs for dependents or are you focused solely on the employee? With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passage in 2010 and the requirement to provide affordable coverage for employees, employer funds were shifted away from dependent coverage subsidies towards covering employees’ costs. Now, many employers are evolving their mindset back to being more family friendly and extending cost coverage to dependent tiers.
- Do you extend coverage to domestic partners? There are tax implications (imputed income requirements) and additional administrative burdens to validate that the domestic partner definition is met; however, this benefit is viewed as a DEI-aligned benefit and should be considered.
Keep in mind that in addition to paying more toward healthcare premiums, your company may potentially incur an increase in healthcare claims costs as well.
Family Planning Benefits
Benefit offerings that center around assistance for families may not be too expensive but will be very valuable to those that need them. Some examples include:
- Adoption assistance
- Coverage of infertility treatments
- Parental leave
- Access to partially subsidized back-up childcare or elder care benefits/resources
These are just a few that are considered emerging benefit trends. At the VBA Benefits Corporation, we are currently performing due diligence on several vendors to enhance the benefits you can offer your employees that align with an inclusive and caring culture. Stay tuned for more information later in the year!