Level The Playing Field With The Right Employee Benefits
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is about giving employees equal opportunity in the workplace and removing obstacles for underrepresented groups to grow and advance. If there’s anything we’ve learned in recent years, it’s that employees come from very diverse backgrounds and experiences, and have unique needs. In honor of Black History Month, we’ve put together a list of employee benefits that can help level the playing field for Black employees.
Employee Benefits & Resources To Help Level The Playing Field
There’s a large healthcare disparity in the U.S. Black workers are less likely to have consistent sources of care or a primary care physician and less likely to receive preventive care. Employers can help increase access to quality healthcare by providing onsite healthcare and telehealth services. Employers should also evaluate the affordability of care in existing company-provided insurance plans and seek plans from a network of high-value providers.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Remote work has given Black employees a reprieve from microaggressions and pressures to conform to White standards in the workplace as well as the emotional stress and feelings of isolation that result. A survey by Slack found that 97% of Black knowledge workers in the U.S. prefer a fully remote or hybrid workplace. Only 3% of Black workers surveyed said they want to return to the office full-time, compared with 21% of white workers. Additionally, Black workers reported a 50% increase in their sense of workplace belonging and a 64% increase in their ability to manage stress once they began working from home. Continuing remote or hybrid work arrangements can have far reaching benefits to Black employees’ overall well-being.
Financial Wellness Benefits
58% of Black & Latino households vs. 37% of all households don’t have enough savings to cover three months of expenses at the federal poverty rate. Additionally, retirement savings held by White households average seven times that of Black households. Even when Black employees have access to retirement plans, they typically contribute a lower percentage of their salary. While pay equity is important, a higher salary does not always guarantee financial wellness for everyone. HR leaders can help narrow the wealth gap by offering comprehensive financial wellness benefits that educate and guide employees to achieve financial stability and achieve their life goals.
Mental Health Support
According to the American Psychiatric Association, only one in three African Americans who need mental health care receive it. Additionally, when compared with White adults, Black adults are more likely to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress. Barriers to mental health services exist for a number of reasons, including the stigma associated with mental illness, distrust of the healthcare system, lack of providers from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, and lack of insurance/underinsurance. Crafting policies that provide mental health support for employees and improving health insurance to include mental health services can help eliminate the barrier of access.
Employee Resource Groups
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary employee-led cohorts made up of employees with common interests, stages of life, or demographics. They serve as a sanctuary for employees with similar backgrounds to connect with one another. The groups offer a space to network, raise awareness around relevant topics, and work on professional development. Many companies successfully leverage their ERGs to drive their talent pipeline and ensure alignment between their business and diversity strategies. HR and business leaders should empower Black employees with a safe space to build community and belonging within the workplace by fostering ERGs and encouraging participation.
Employers can enable Black employees to thrive by leveling the playing field with high-value benefits and support structures that address their unique challenges. Building an inclusive culture with a robust employee benefits program can go a long way in creating a workplace in which employees thrive and do their best work.