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Employers See Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion, Plan to Do More


More employers are broadening their use of diversity and inclusion by incorporating it in their workplace culture, benefits and perks, compensation and well-being programs.

This is according to Willis Towers Watson’s “2019 Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey,” which polled 535 employers.

“Employers today understand the importance of inclusion and diversity for their talent and business performance more than any previous point in history,” said Rachael McCann, senior director of health and benefits at Willis Towers Watson. “They also recognize that inclusion and diversity cannot exist in a vacuum. It needs to be built for each organization’s unique and diverse workforce and woven into the fabric of their culture, benefits, pay and workplace policies.”

The survey found that over the last three years a majority of employers (55%) have taken steps to communicate their inclusion and diversity initiatives as they pertain to workplace culture and policies, while nearly three-quarters (73%) indicate they intend to do so over the next three years. Similarly, just over half (51%) have promoted inclusion and diversity endeavors aligned with their benefit programs over the last three years, with more than two-thirds (68%) aiming to do so in the next three years.

McCann said that in the future she anticipates diversity and inclusion to be integrated into every aspect of an employers’ benefits or rewards strategy.

“Five years from now, I don’t expect us to be having the same discussion around inclusion and diversity and benefits,” she said, “because I truly believe it will be integrated in the broader strategy and tactics.” 

Attracting and retaining talent (82%) and driving employee engagement (62%) are overwhelmingly the most important factors behind employers taking action to promote inclusion and diversity within their workforce.

McCann asserted that employers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of inclusion and diversity and how it aligns with the broader business strategy.

“The need to recruit, retain and engage diverse talent in a highly competitive labor market will only accelerate activity over the coming years,” McCann said. “Simply put, inclusion and diversity has become a top focus of the C-suite, given the clear link between diverse talent and improved business results.”

Leave-of-absence programs will continue to be a starting point to reinforce inclusion and diversity through benefits. In fact, three-quarters (75%) of respondents have either taken actions on their leave-of-absence programs or plan to this year or next, giving more employees opportunity to balance their unique work-life situation.

Employers ranked their top inclusion and diversity priorities over the next three years as financial planning (37%); core medical and/or pharmacy benefits (30%); maternity and family planning/infertility benefits (27%); and mental health and substance abuse treatment (27%).

“A key takeaway is what inclusion and diversity means to one employer, is going to be different than what it means to another employer,” McCann said. “It will evolve as the workplace evolves and as the vendor capabilities evolve. Like anything else, a strategy related to rewards that’s put forth today should be annually revisited to measure if the outcome aligns with the objectives.”

Additional Resources 

February 2019 Workspan 

About the Author

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.   

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