DEI is a complex ecosystem.

“It’s hard to quantify. There’s far more work needed around pay equity and role definition to make sure DEI is a reality and not an ‘effort,’” says Steve Browne. 

To put it another way, DEI can’t just be another box to check for HR teams, or you’ll fall into the dangerous domain of virtue-signaling. Modern workers are savvy to authentically inclusive initiatives. You need to provide tangible resources and programs that incorporate your actual staff and match their diverse needs. That’s why we asked experts for specific examples to bolster benefits offerings when it comes to DEI. 

Parent and Caregiving Benefits

Reports show that a disproportionate number of women left the workforce due to the pandemic, and a leading roadblock for their return is caregiving responsibilities. Consequently, more than one of our experts mentioned caregiving benefits, such as enhanced childcare resources and paid parental leave. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that caregiving isn’t simply a female issue but a broader discussion in the realm of DEI.

Paid parental leave continues to be extremely important for women but expanding those benefits to those growing their families through adoption may be important for some marginalized groups. Offering leave and adoption support is a great benefit to encourage DEI efforts in today’s workplace.”

Beth Pinkerton Director of Human Resources, SERVPRO

What’s more, it’s not only childcare that you need to address. Zoë Harte, Chief People Officer for Upwork, reminded us during our Open Enrollment webinar that many workers are a part of the sandwich generation, caring for both children and older parents. As a result, we need to also explore eldercare as a resource and benefit. (It’s no wonder a few of our experts also mentioned eldercare in their discussion of DEI benefits). 

Examine healthcare and benefits cost-sharing

Deb Gordon provided illuminating advice on how health care and benefits cost-sharing can impact certain groups of employees more than others:

Employers should look carefully at the impact of benefit design on all employees. For example, cost-sharing can disproportionately harm employees at the lower end of the earning scale. ‘Equal’ application of policies does not necessarily mean ‘equitable.’ Income does not match perfectly to race and ethnicity, but it’s often highly correlated. Employers should analyze their own employee data and recognize how policies may inadvertently harm employees of color, female employees or those with disabilities. These groups may be over-represented in lower-wage roles, and so addressing economic equity through benefit design may have an oversized, positive impact on DEI efforts across a range of dimensions.”

Deb Gordon author and Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellow



of employers fully cover their employees’ healthcare premiums

Jellyvision survey, Nov. 2021

Inclusive mentorship

Jon Hill explains how mentorship can be more than just a learning and development tool, but also further DEI efforts:

Mentorship and professional development programs are a critical benefit for increasing DEI, especially for those who are early in their efforts and are still largely homogenous as a workforce. These provide non-majority employees a clearer path for advancement and help them to feel more included and heard in the day-to-day work environment, something that’s crucial if you want to retain diverse hires and increase diversity across hierarchy levels.”

Jon Hill Chairman & CEO, The Energists

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