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The Future Benefits World Is Diverse and Inclusive


Organizations implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives is an emerging trend in the human resources space. Some of these initiatives are in response to the heightened awareness the #MeToo movement has brought, lawsuits and all. But organizations are also becoming increasingly aware of the effect a more diverse and inclusive workplace can have on the bottom line.

A McKinsey report revealed that ethnically diverse companies are 33% more likely to outperform non-ethnically diverse companies.

“Employers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of inclusion and diversity and how it aligns with the broader business strategy,” said Rachael McCann, senior director of health and benefits at Willis Towers Watson. “Where I think employers have an opportunity to move past great objectives, employer resource groups, is when they evaluate and focus on inclusion and diversity as a business imperative than as just being a component.” 

Research from Willis Towers Watson’s “2019 Emerging Trends in Heath Care Survey” found that employers view diversity and inclusion efforts as a way to attract and retain talent while also driving employee engagement. In that vein, it stands to reason that organizations will continue to ramp up diversity and inclusion initiatives going forward, given the tight labor market. 

“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.”

The Willis Towers Watson survey of 535 employers found that 73% intend to communicate their inclusion and diversity initiatives as they pertain to workplace culture and policies over the next three years. And 68% said they are aiming to align diversity and inclusion endeavors with their benefit programs.

McCann said she anticipates diversity and inclusion to be integrated into every aspect of an employers’ benefits or rewards strategy within the next five years. McCann likened the affect diversity and inclusion is having on the benefits world to that of when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was introduced by the Obama administration in 2010.

“When ACA was passed, employers were really forced to think about their strategy and where health care played a role, unlike any other time I think we’ve had,” McCann said. “The focus on inclusion and diversity has really pushed employers to think about who their workforce is today, who it’s going to be in the future and evaluate if the programs they have are really meeting those needs.”


Building D&I with Empathy

Sharon Kuhn explains how employers should focus on emotional intelligence, which often coincides with diversity and inclusion initiatives, in this piece for Forbes. Kuhn writes that while leaders aren’t expected to be therapists, they can be inclusive of their employees’ diversity and influence their health and wellness in the workplace.

Disruptive Forces

This Harvard Business Review article identifies seven disruptive forces that leaders should understand and incorporate into their strategy for future growth. One of the disruptive forces tabbed is “diversity and generational change,” which make open dialogue, employee empowerment and inclusion organizational imperatives.

Transforming Business

The first step to creating a culture of inclusion is to teach people to look for commonality, writes Shavon Lindley in this HR Technologist piece. Lindley, the CEO of ion Learning explains that it’s important for an organization’s management team to understand diversity as a strategy and communicate such to the rest of their teams.

Raising Awareness

Rob Danna writes that raising awareness is key to inclusion in this Forbes piece. Danna cites research that shows only about a quarter of employees in diverse groups have personally benefited from diversity and inclusion programs. Danna outlines four things organizations should keep in mind when developing their inclusion initiatives. 

Reducing Gender Bias

Gender diversity training programs have become almost as common as Ping-Pong tables and free snacks at tech offices, writes Beth Braverman in this CNBC article. Braverman’s piece examines how more tech companies are implementing training that is aimed at promoting a more inclusive environment for women in hopes that it reduces barriers for climbing the ladder within the organization.

About the Author

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.




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