Skip to main content
Home » Employee Wellbeing » Wellbeing benefits: a help or hinderance to DEI?
Employee Wellbeing Q1 2022

Wellbeing benefits: a help or hinderance to DEI?

iStock / Getty Images Plus / uniquepixel

Debi O’Donovan

Co-Founder and Director, Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA)

Employee wellbeing and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies are becoming strongly intertwined.

For some time, leading employers with male-dominated workforces have included a focus women’s health as part of efforts to diversify the workforce. These days, this means going beyond supplying fans for ‘women of a certain age’ and ensuring there are sanitary bins at every site (not easy on a construction site using portable loos, I hasten to add).

There has been tremendous growth in the variety of employee benefits being launched to support women, parents and people from the LGBTQ+ community. More legislation and reviews by insurers have been taking place to ensure people from all groups, different ethnicities or those with disabilities are catered for, supported and not discriminated against. However, it feels as though we are very much at the start of this aspect of the DEI journey.

Inequalities impact financial, mental and physical wellbeing.

Insurances that discriminate

Discrimination is still going unnoticed in pay, bonuses and pension contributions, as well as in employee benefits, in particular wellbeing benefits.

Unless employers delve into the data, they may be unaware that the interest rates offered to some sectors of staff are worse than those offered to other groups. Exclusions on some risk and medical insurances penalise certain groups more than others. These states of play must be challenged and employers often have the clout to push back and ask for change.

A simple starting point for all employers would be to check take up levels of different employee benefits by talking to workplace DEI networks. This would help to better understand the lack of equity in the benefits on offer. Inequalities impact financial, mental and physical wellbeing.

Top DEI benefits on offer

REBA’s DEI Benefits Research 2022, published on 16 March in association with Peppy, found that 81% of employers lack diversity at leadership level and 72% have an historically non-diverse workforce. Yet, it is estimated that 93% are focussing on DEI strategies in order to enhance their employer brand.

Our research found that 87% are focussing on DEI in order to align with organisational purpose, while 85% want to improve organisational performance.

To achieve these objectives, most employers are starting with introducing different types of wellbeing benefits.

We found that the top five benefits that employers will add in the next two years to support DEI are menopause support (by 44%), inclusive financial education (by 32%), fertility support (by 30%), baby loss support (29%) and support during early parenthood (by 26%). This will not create full DEI, but it’s a very good direction of travel.

Next article