What Are LGBTQ Employee Benefits?
LGBTQ employee benefits are non-wage compensations that are specifically aimed at covering the needs of LGBTQ workers. Examples of these benefits can include group life and health insurance, paid medical leave for gender transition surgery, and even parental leave policies for adoptive parents. In this day in age, it’s important for companies to ensure their benefits plan covers the needs of all workers as it shows their commitment to cultivating a diverse workplace culture. Additionally, companies that support LGBTQ employees are 35% more likely to outperform their industry counterparts in revenue and earnings growth. Offering truly inclusive LGBTQ initiatives isn’t just beneficial for people, it’s good for business too.
The Problem With Rainbow Washing
Rainbow washing is when companies publicly show support for the LGBTQ community by adding rainbow colours and imagery to their marketing tactics, but displaying minimum effort to actually make change. At the beginning of every June, companies across the world litter their social media accounts with bright, colorful rainbow versions of their logos. They fill their storefronts with multi-coloured displays, featuring pride slogans in an attempt to show their support for the LGBTQ community. However, as soon as July rolls around, the rainbow logos suddenly disappear and everything returns back to normal.
This phenomenon is most prominent during the month of June, Pride Month. As such, it’s important for companies to hold onto promises made during Pride Month and be an ally year-round. Too many organizations fall into the marketing trap of promoting pride when the world is looking – the true test is promoting support internally as it continues to affect the lives of employees. Obviously, external images of support go a long way to continue the discussion surrounding equality. However, pride is not a marketing tactic – it’s a value that companies that support LGBTQ must maintain to truly drive equality.
LGTBQ Inclusive Employee Benefits
Below are a list of LGBTQ inclusive employee benefits available on the market today:
1. Gender Affirmation, Green Shield Canada
Green Shield Canada’s (GSG’s) gender affirmation offering allows plan sponsors to provide inclusive benefits coverage that supports plan members throughout their gender transition journey. Their gender affirmation offering includes two categories, Foundation and Focused, which includes reimbursement for core surgeries and surgical enhancements.
2. Prescription Drugs, The Beneplan Co-operative
Beneplan’s prescription drugs cover employees’ prescription drug expenses, with a specialized focus on expensive drugs. They offer a drug advocacy program to help members find alternative sources to fund expensive drugs such as fertility drugs. While a personal choice for members, fertility drugs are considered a “legacy” inclusion on many benefit plans.
3. Mental Health+, Dialogue
Members of the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to experience mental health struggles. The transgender and bisexual communities have the highest rates of mental health concerns in the LGBTQ+ population. Dialogue’s Mental Health+ program improves the well-being and productivity of thousands of organizations across Canada, offering quick services and access to an extended continuity of care.
4. Employee and Family Assistance Program, Family Services Employee Assistance Programs
Family Services Employee Assistance Programs (FSEAP) has been helping employees balance their work and personal lives, build knowledge and skills to deal with challenges, and resolve problems that can negatively impact their ability to maintain focus and productivity at work. For the LGBTQ+ community, having access to family assistance programs is crucial. Family building can look different for everyone, which is why every situation is deserving of support.
With that being said, here are 5 companies and their endeavors to support the LGBTQ community this Pride Month and year-round. Following the footsteps of these companies can help your organization create an inclusive culture going forward.
5 Companies With Top LGBTQ Benefits
Internally, Apple has an employee resource group called [email protected] which offers leadership, education and networking opportunities to support its LGBTQ employees. Currently, over 25,000 employees are a part of this group. Apple and its employees take part in the Pride parade each year. Additionally, each year, Apple releases an exclusive special edition Apple Watch for Pride and donates proceeds to support LGBTQ charities and organizations. This year, they released a special edition Apple Watch band sporting the colours of the Pride flag. They are currently working with many organizations including:
- Equality North Carolina
- Equality Texas
- Gender Spectrum
- The Human Rights Campaign
- PFLAG National
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- SMYAL and The Trevor Project in the US
- ILGA World
For the past 18 years, Apple has scored 100% on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)’s Corporate Equality Index and has been one of the top-scoring companies since 2002. This speaks about Apple’s long-term commitment to the cause rather than a short-term marketing strategy. Apple has also been at the forefront of advocating for LGBTQ rights by opposing discriminating policies by signing letters and taking legal stances.
Similarly to Apple, Coca-Cola has also scored 100% on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)’s Corporate Equality Index since 2006. Since 2011, Coca-Cola’s LGBTQ initiatives have included transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage for its employees. Since 2015, they’ve continued adding more innovative resources for LGBTQ employees. One such benefit is tax support for employees who live in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage. These employees therefore do not receive marriage benefits within their state, such as tax deductions. In addition, the company has a group called the Coca-Cola LGBTQA Business Resource Group. This group helps ensure inclusion and diversity, both in the workplace and the community through its endeavours. Coca-Cola is also the co-founder of a program called the “Next Generation LGBTQ Leaders’ Initiative” that helps educate and connect young LGBTQ leaders in their efforts. Furthermore, they’ve been an integral resource for the LGBTQ community by supporting marriage equality and the LGBTQ religious freedom cause. Lastly, they work in partnership with numerous LGBTQ organizations via the Coca-Cola Fund, providing support and resources for the community.
IKEA has consistently scored 100% on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)’s Corporate Equality Index for years. They have been a leading company in terms of providing inclusive benefits, and LGBTQ initiatives such as:
- Relocation/travel assistance
- Employee discount
- Supplemental life insurance and parental leave for its LGBTQ employees and their families.
Additionally, IKEA also funds a part of an expensive gender confirmation counseling and surgery for its employees in the U.S. Externally, they co-created the UN Standards of Conduct which handles discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace and community. They have also been at the forefront of celebrating numerous days in support of the LGBTQ community. Some examples include International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia. Furthermore, IKEA is in partnership with LGBTQ organizations to act as a resource for the community. Each year, IKEA launches limited edition Pride month products such as the KVANTING bag and the STORSTOMMA bag, and donates proceeds to LGBTQ organizations.
Since 1989, Microsoft has included sexual orientation as a part of its non-discrimination policy. In 1993, Microsoft became one of the first companies in the world to offer employee benefits for same-sex domestic partners. Furthermore, they continue to stay committed to their policies with the help of their employee resource group called GLEAM (Global LGBTQI+ Employees and Allies at Microsoft). Through GLEAM, Microsoft employees can access support, advocacy, networking opportunities, and education opportunities.
Outside of their workplace, they stay true to their LGBTQ commitment by frequently donating to LGBTQ foundations. They have been a pioneer in supporting the LGBTQ community, by being one of the first 15 companies to support the UN Standard of Conduct for Business on Tackling Discrimination against LGBTQI People amongst other acts.
Uber has launched its Gender Transition Guidelines which supports both LGBTQ employees and their co-workers, friends, and family on how to best support their transitioning peers. In addition, they strive to stay committed through their inclusive recruitment and retention policies, community outreach programs and training. Their group, called ‘Pride at Uber’, is dedicated to supporting the community both internally and externally. It provides support and resources for its employees, and advocates for the community to external businesses.
Uber Brazil co-released a “Respect” campaign to reduce discrimination and sexual violence against the LGBTQ community within the platform. In 2018, they helped Rani, an Indian transgender to pursue sustainable employment by helping her get her car to be the first transgender shared-ride driver in India. It opened up a chain of resources as Rani is now able to help others in her community who have been rejected by society to build a sustainable life for themselves. Between 2016 to 2019, Uber has scored 100% on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)’s Corporate Equality Index.
supporting your LGBTQ employees
Supporting LGBTQ employees is more than just putting up a post for Pride month, it is about fostering positive workplace culture, committing to inclusion and diversity in policies and practice, and being an ally for the LGBTQ community year-round. While these five companies prove that they are truly committed towards supporting the LGBTQ community and their employees, we hope more companies take a page out of their books going forward. What LGBTQ initiatives have you seen that you think are innovative? Let us know in the comments! From all of us at CloudAdvisors, we wish you a happy Pride.