As many organizations have already recognized, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) are intrinsically linked with health and wellbeing. The diverse communities within a workforce, and the recognition of their different health needs, has driven the need for a more segmented approach in health and well-being strategy.
COVID-19 in particular has highlighted the many health inequities both at work and within broader society, and the extent to which they have widened is concerning.
Many LGBTQ+ employees suffered a sharp deterioration in health and well-being during the pandemic, with more than one in three reporting that COVID-19 had a negative impact on them.
As annual PRIDE events return post COVID-19, it’s the perfect time for organizations to promote the support they offer LGBTQ+ employees. However, could employers be doing more? Yes, according to the latest findings from the MMB Health on Demand report.
Mental health challenges have almost become a pandemic in themselves, with three in 10 LGBTQ+ employees saying they are “extremely” or “highly” stressed on a daily basis, compared to fewer than two in 10 of those who do not identify as LGBTQ+, according to the Health on Demand report.
A shockingly high number of LGBTQ+ employees — one in 10 — also report that they are in “not good” or “poor” health, compared with one in 16 employees who do not identify as LGBTQ+.
Inevitably, these health and well-being inequalities are reflected in the workplace.
While more than two-thirds of the workforce who do not identify as LGBTQ+ say they are highly energized at work on a daily basis, this falls to just over half of LGBTQ+ employees.
Employers can play a vital role in narrowing this divide. However, only two in five LGBTQ+ employees rated support from their employer during the pandemic as “good” or “very good,” so many organizations will need to address this with a new health-equity strategy.
The first step is to gather data (where permitted by law) to find out how your organization performed prior to COVID-19. Do your LGBTQ+ employees believe they are as well supported as other employees? And what do LGBTQ+ employees need and value?
Source: Mercer Marsh Benefits Health on Demand Report
LGBTQ+ employees may have different — and additional — needs to other employees, so we recommend that organizations review workplace practices and their benefits offering.
The next step is to devise a new health-equity strategy. In addition to key metrics, timeframes and accountability, ensure there is comprehensive training to embed new policies.
Addressing decades of health inequality will not happen overnight. But it is still important to measure progress and discover what works and what doesn’t.
Promote the initiatives underway to provide equal, fair and accessible benefits for all employees, regardless of identity or orientation.
Remember, communication should be two-way: It is important that employees have a say — for example, through employee networks.
Tackling health and well-being inequality is just part of being an inclusive LGBTQ+ workplace — and, as such, any review should be part of a continual process of improvement to the culture of your organization, not just an annual tick-box exercise to mark PRIDE.