Although many global organisations have adopted broader diversity and inclusion policies, just over half have tailored these policies to specifically accommodate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees, a survey suggests.
Mercer’s LGBT Benefits around the World Survey found a third of organisations do not have a designated programme for LGBT employees within their diversity and inclusion policy and 20% of organisations rely on other corporate policies to accommodate LGBT individuals.
Most organisations that have adopted a standalone policy for LGBT employees (28%) have done so as a global policy for all locations.
Ilya Bonic, president of Mercer’s career business, said that with all the uncertainty of the past year and the spotlight on human rights issues, it is more important than ever for organisations to reassess their position on LGBT-rights issues.
“In the global war for top talent, companies perceived as non-discriminatory and progressive enhance their attractiveness as a workplace by creating a welcoming, supportive and productive environment,” said Bonic.
Most organisations have adopted a policy that protects them from workplace discrimination or harassment.
According to Mercer’s survey, two-thirds of global organisations have a separate anti-discrimination policy that covers LGBT employees and an additional 6% plan to adopt such a policy within the next 12 months.
A smaller portion of companies (28%) allow employees to self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender for the purposes of workforce analytics.
Tony Wood, UK leader for Mercer Marsh Benefits, said businesses need to focus on expanding LGBT benefits policies beyond anti-discrimination policies, including improving family planning and care offerings, HIV prevention initiatives and LGBT healthcare provisions.
In an effort to provide benefits coverage equally to all employees, organisations globally have revisited the language of their health and wealth benefits programmes to ensure that LGBT couples are eligible for the same company benefits as opposite-sex couples, the research found.
In many cases, this includes amending programmes to recognise same-sex couples in locations where civil unions are prohibited.
The majority of companies worldwide (81%) offer the same life, medical, and retirement benefits to LGBT couples.
Of the organisations that do not offer equal benefits to LGBT employees, half of organisations stated they are constrained by national laws, while a third cited cultural, societal preconceptions, or the company’s inability to implement such a benefit plan.
Legal restrictions disproportionately inhibit organisations in Central and Eastern Europe (86%), Middle East and Africa (81%), Western Europe (75%), and Latin America (61%).
By contrast, less than a third of organisations in North America (31%) do not provide equal benefits for this reason.
Of the UK companies that do not offer equal benefit coverage to LGBT couples, 83% claimed this is due to legal restrictions while 50% cited a lack of capable benefit vendors and 33% said they do not know how to implement such a benefit.
The survey found half of organisations worldwide provide benefits to help LGBT employees plan and care for a family, whether through fertility treatment, surrogacy, adoption, or parental leave.
In the UK, 78% of companies provide benefits that assist family planning.