- Employers are expanding the concept of diversity and inclusion (D&I) by incorporating it into workplace culture, benefits and perks, compensation and well-being programs according to a new report from Willis Towers Watson (WTW). Its 2019 Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey polled 535 employers.
- The survey showed that attracting and retaining talent (82%) and driving employee engagement (62%) are the most important factors behind respondents promoting D&I within their workforces. "The need to recruit, retain and engage diverse talent in a highly competitive labor market will only accelerate activity over the coming years," Rachael McCann, WTW’s senior director of health and benefits, said in a statement.
- Employers cited their top D&I priority as financial planning, including emergency savings and retirement. More than half of respondents have promoted D&I initiatives that align with their benefits during the past three years, and 68% plan to do so in the next three years, the survey said. WTW also found that 55% of respondents communicate how D&I initiatives relate to workplace culture and policies with employees.
Whether employers choose to tailor D&I initiatives to align with benefits or the reverse, many are beginning to recognize that D&I isn't an isolated concept. To attract and maintain a diverse workforce, benefits need to reflect workers' individual experiences and be cognizant of their unique needs, various experts have said.
Many employers have already shifted their thinking and applied this idea to their benefits, offering paid parental leave, financial planning perks and mental and physical wellness initiatives for workers. Designing D&I programs that support and align with employee benefits is critical if employers want their investment in workers to pay off. According to a recent study, a quarter of workers in diverse groups — largely women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community — said they aren't seeing the direct benefits from the D&I initiatives their employers offer.
Employers will also need to address gender- and race-based pay disparity in their D&I initiatives if they want to shore up their recruitment and retention efforts, as pay gaps may only get worse in 2019, according to an Economic Policy Institute report. But improved recruiting and decreased turnover are not the only positive outcomes employers might enjoy.
"We also expect other advantages, such as broader perspectives, better environmental, social and governance metrics, stronger brand recognition and improved corporate sustainability to deepen organizations’ commitment to inclusion and diversity. 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," McCann noted in the WTW press release.