By G. David Adamson, M.D., Founder and CEO of ARC Fertility
It is almost impossible to have a conversation about business without the subject of diversity coming up. That is not a new concept, of course, but in the last five years organizations in every industry have doubled down on their efforts to build workforces that include as wide a swath of society as possible. 98% of American companies now have diversity initiatives, which fall under the category of DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging), but the reality is that most of these programs are not really working. This is where creative approaches to healthcare benefits can help forward-looking companies move the needle when it comes to broadening the demographic representation of their workforces.
Despite the proliferation of DEIB programs, the reality on the ground is bleak. According to a study from the Boston Consulting Group, “Over the past few years, press attention and awareness have expanded the focus on obstacles that employees in diverse groups, particularly women, face at work. In response, companies have launched even more programs to address these obstacles, yet few of these efforts have yielded results.” This disconnect is hardly surprising. After all, there is a huge gap between good intentions and tangible results.
So how does healthcare fit into this conversation, and why should organizations that have voiced their commitments to diversity look at benefits as a tool to achieve the results that so many DEIB initiatives do not? And more specifically, why do fertility benefits improve diversity for both hiring and employee retention? As it turns out, there are two main answers to this question: financial and emotional.
Fertility medicine can be expensive, and most healthcare plans do not fully cover treatments such as IVF and egg freezing. As a result, people who want to grow their families often need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to make their dreams come true. Organizations that provide fertility medical benefits can help their employees cover or defray these costs.
The connection between these benefits and diversity is clear. For example, numerous studies show that minorities have significantly less access to fertility care and also have poorer outcomes from treatment. Additionally, people in same-sex relationships need assistance to have children, whether it is through insemination, IVF, donor eggs or sperm, surrogacy, or adoption. Companies that offer benefits that cover these automatically make themselves more attractive to LGBTQ+ job candidates, as well as existing employees that they want to retain. In addition, offering services such as egg freezing is extremely attractive to women in their 20s and 30s who want to delay having children and are concerned about their ability to get pregnant when they are older. Organizations that provide fertility benefits have an advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining women and LGBTQ+ employees.
Offering fertility benefits goes well beyond the financial side of the equation. For several years, diversity programs have been part of the DEI umbrella, which has morphed into DEIB over the last year. The “B” – belonging – is important. People take jobs, and stay in jobs, for more than a paycheck. More than half of employees under the age of 40 say that feeling like they are part of an organization that is doing meaningful things is more important than what they get paid. The so-called “great resignation” of 2021 was predicated on employees realizing that just having a job is not enough: they want the right job. In this context, people want to know that they are working for organizations that care about them. This is where fertility medical benefits can play a role in demonstrating that a company has the kind of culture and values that make it an employer of choice.
There is no single magic bullet that is going to make a company a place where everyone wants to work. For some people, red-carpet perks such as free meals and on-site dry cleaning are what matters. For others, it is a liberal remote work policy that enables them to balance their personal and professional lives. But for women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and other people who have so far not benefited from diversity initiatives, knowing that a company takes their emotional well-being into consideration can be the kind of differentiator that takes diversity out of the theoretical realm and makes it a reality.
Dr. G. David Adamson MD, FRCSC, FACOG, FACS, is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of ARC Fertility. He is a globally recognized reproductive endocrinologist and surgeon, and is a Clinical Professor, ACF at Stanford University, and Associate Clinical Professor at UCSF. Dr. Adamson also serves as the current Chair of the International Committee Monitoring ART (ICMART), a WHO NSA/NGO.
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