By Karsten Vagner
According to the latest research, two out of every five companies globally have increased their budgets for diversity, equity and inclusion programs over the past six months, even as they make budget cuts elsewhere. It’s promising to know that this momentum will likely only continue as one in three executives also said workplace diversity is a top-five business priority. According to the same report, of these companies that have stepped up, 50% have set goals around hiring and recruiting diverse leaders and 47% have invested in “cradle-to-career” initiatives that support the future career aspirations of the underrepresented in their respective communities.
These are important steps in building more diverse and inclusive companies. As we continue to invest in diversity and inclusion at our companies, let’s not forget about parents, too, as many underrepresented employees — people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, women — are working parents. As new research reveals, investing in parents, and including them in your DEI budget, is better for business.
Maven, the company I work for, recently partnered with Great Place to Work to release the “Parents at the Best Workplaces™” report, representing the sentiments of 440,000 parents across 1,244 companies. This research revealed what we at Maven have always known to be true: supporting parents isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good business. Plus, our data shows that when companies are better for parents, they’re better for all employees — and for their bottom line.
As you build your annual budget this year, here are three ways to include parents in your DEI budget.
1. Ensure the benefits and programs you have for families are equitable and inclusive.
As you integrate supporting parents within your DEI budget and strategy, make sure you’re applying an equity and inclusion lens to the benefits and programs you’re investing in for parents. Chances are, because of how companies have historically approached key family benefits like fertility coverage or parental leave, there may be some real gaps and opportunities for improvement.
For instance, fertility benefits that require a medical diagnosis of infertility exclude employees who are single parents or LGBTQ+ couples. This is a common issue and leaves many employees looking for new jobs with more expansive parental benefits that cover fertility treatments for anyone as well as support for adoption or surrogacy.
It’s also critical to ensure your parental leave doesn’t exclude some of your parents — by gender, their path to parenthood or by using primary vs. secondary caregiver language. As demonstrated in our report, many organizations in the U.S. are beginning to offer more substantial paternity leave, and I hope this trend will only continue. Over the last year, the companies surveyed have increased paid paternity leave by 10 days and saw the number of days off taken by new dads increase by an average of six days.
2. Invest in belonging for parents and diverse employees.
Belonging is linked to a 56% increase in job performance, and people of color, women and LGBTQ+ employees especially report a need for more support and inclusion because of the pandemic. As a result, many companies we surveyed have created and tapped into employee resource groups, or ERGs, to fill these gaps and drive connection remotely. For instance, 61% of the workplaces we surveyed reported having ERGs for working parents.
Working parents, especially new parents, need support as they navigate the first few weeks and months back to work from parental leave. Return-to-work programs, internal peer groups for new parents and access to career coaching are ways for companies to invest in an area that is often overlooked, and one that is critical to help parents feel they belong.
3. Step up your mental health support with a focus on addressing burnout.
Many companies have been focused on mental health since the beginning of the pandemic, and rightly so. Our investments should only continue to grow to support employees’ specialized needs and address burnout.
Ourreport found an estimated 2.4 million additional cases of burnout among working mothers due to the unequal demands of home and work. This trend was reflected in Maven’s virtual clinic for women and families as well. In the first few months of the pandemic, we saw a 300% increase in telehealth appointments with mental health providers — like therapists that specialize in children’s behavioral health or postpartum depression, social workers to help parents, or counselors to help cope with loss — and have continued to see demand for mental health support since.
The good news? When companies reduce burnout, employees are 20 times more likely to stay and 35 times more likely to recommend their employer. However, for this to happen, company policies need to address the unique drivers for burnout. Expanding access to specialized mental health support, modeling and enabling flexibility, training managers to be empathetic listeners and encouraging employees to take time off are just some of the ways companies can address burnout going into the new year.
Contact Kanarys to find out more about how to foster diversity, equity and inclusion in your workplace.
Originally posted on Forbes