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Inclusive HR: Considering All Forms of Diversity

Diversity, equity and inclusion remain top of mind for many organizations, especially those looking to elevate both their employee experience and employer brand. However, until recently, much of the conversation focused on issues of race and gender, inadvertently overlooking significant sectors of today’s workforce, which begs the question — how can employers approach HR in an all-encompassing way?

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Finding the answer, it seems, requires introspection on the part of the organization and a comprehensive review of existing practices, policies and benefits. Here are five to consider:

Reduce Recruiting Bias
Diversity isn’t always overt. Subtle factors, like a person’s education, socioeconomic standing or political beliefs, can all lead to judgment on the part of an organization — whether conscious or not. There are several things HR and recruiting teams can do to mitigate the risk. Simple fixes like reworking job descriptions to include words that appeal to a larger applicant pool.

According to SHRM, research suggests that adjectives like “competitive” and “determined” demonstrate masculine sensibilities and have the potential alienate female candidates. Standardized interviews help too, helping the employer focus more on performance indicators than personal traits.

Provide Same-Sex Spousal Health Insurance
While same-sex couples have more access to employer-sponsored health insurance than ever before, a gap persists. Last year, research from the Kaiser Family Foundation noted that 63% of employers offering coverage to opposite-sex couples extended care to same-sex ones, a 20% increase from 2016. Even so, that means that some 37% of organizations have yet to include same-sex spouses in the health insurance plans. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation found that most employers saw less than a 3.5% increase in total benefits cost when they included partners, making this a low-cost, high-return option.

Increase Transgender-Inclusive Care
At 16%, unemployment rates for transgender and non-binary workers are higher than across the LGBTQ population, and four times above the national average. And while many states lack the protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation, that doesn’t mean employers shouldn’t expand policies and benefits to cover these minorities. Similar to same-sex spousal coverage, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation saw a nominal uptick in total benefits cost relation to transgender-inclusive health care — equating to a fraction of a decimal point of cost calculations. Having the option to receive gender confirmation treatment and surgery can make vastly improve the quality of life for these workers.

Build Friendlier Workplaces
Neurodiversity recognizes and celebrates different ways of thinking, another lesser seen characteristic that accounts for a wide range of talent, with unique skill sets. But as the Harvard Business Review points out, “In many cases the accommodations and challenges are manageable and the potential returns are great. But to realize the benefits, most companies would have to adjust their … policies to reflect a broader definition of talent.” This might mean adding quiet spaces or purchasing headphones to help neurodiverse workers avoid overstimulation and communicating options for employees unable to sit through meetings or otherwise mandatory training. 

Expand Paid Leave
Paid leave used to include the bare minimum, a few days for bereavement of an immediate family member, unpaid weeks for new mothers and that’s about it. While the Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees eligible workers up to 12 weeks unpaid, that isn’t always a viable option. In fact, the Pew Research Center reported that when it comes to paid family leave, covering paternity and other cases such as adoption, only 14% of civilian workers had access. Acknowledging that life happens to everyone, and situations arise outside of employees’ control, it’s worth revisiting policy language to broaden definitions.

Inclusive HR is for all, and the list of possibilities goes on and on. Because the more HR evolves, the more the organization stands to benefit, with Deloitte's research indicating that inclusive cultures are more likely to be high-performing as well as able to achieve better business outcomes.

About the Author

Katherine LaDue is a communications specialist at PlanSource.