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New Research Shows Urgent Need to Address Gender Inequity in Benefits

Celebrated annually on March 8, International Women’s Day (IWD) is more than a global holiday; it’s a call to action for gender equality, reproductive rights, and an end to violence against women. Originating from early 20th-century socialist movements advocating for universal suffrage and labor rights and first recognized in the former Soviet Union, IWD's significance has grown exponentially in the 21st century, especially in the corporate sector. Today, it serves to underscore the urgency of listening to women — not as a token gesture but as a strategic imperative to unearth and address the unique challenges they face in the workplace.

Recent Perceptyx research reveals a disconcerting disparity. Men are 1.5 times more likely to report that they receive essential benefits from employers than women. This gap highlights a critical area for action: gender equity in workplace benefits. Specifically, access to the “magic trifecta” of medical insurance, mental health care, and maternity leave stands out as non-negotiable for leveling the playing field. Yet, an alarming number of employees still find these benefits out of reach, with 53% lacking mental health coverage, 51% without access to maternity leave, and 25% deprived of medical benefits altogether.

The Business Impact of Equity

The advantages of bridging this gap extend beyond morale. Women who enjoy access to these benefits are:

  • 1.3x more likely to be fully engaged in their jobs,
  • 50% less likely to seek employment elsewhere for better benefits, 
  • 33% more engaged, and 20% more productive when compared to those without such benefits.

However, the scarcity of less traditional benefits, such as fertility treatment coverage and menopause care, further underscores these persistent inequities. Moreover, the phenomenon of "benefits envy" is prevalent, with 59% of respondents longing for the more comprehensive benefits packages enjoyed by peers outside their organization.

Addressing gender equity in benefits is not just fair — it's smart business. Fully engaged women are 1.5x more likely to stay with their employer, demonstrating a direct link between equitable benefits, engagement, and productivity. Company size plays a role, too, with larger organizations more likely to offer comprehensive benefits, yet smaller companies can differentiate themselves by focusing on the quality and relevance of their benefits offerings.

Best Practices for Bridging the Benefits Equity Gap

  1. Tailor Benefits to Needs: Understand that the basics — medical insurance, mental health support, and maternity leave — are just table stakes. Additional offerings should reflect the diverse needs of your workforce and can be identified and better understood through continuous, multi-channel employee listening.

  2. Promote Equity Through Policy: Ensure that your benefits package addresses the needs of all employees, acknowledging that equity may require different approaches to achieve equal outcomes.

  3. Foster Open Communication: Create channels for employees to voice their needs and concerns regarding benefits without fear of reprisal. Use this feedback to inform policy changes. Crowdsourcing, which allows for the co-creation of solutions via employee brainstorming and upvoting of favored ideas, is one method to quickly gather both ideas and recommendations for action. 

  4. Invest in Mental Health: Recognize the broad impact of mental health on overall well-being and productivity by offering comprehensive mental health support — support that employee listening, as conducted through Perceptyx’s purpose-built People Insights Platform, enables your people to tell you what they need.

  5. Support Work-Life Balance: Beyond maternity leave, consider policies that support a healthy work-life balance, such as flexible working hours and parental leave that extends to all parents.

  6. Continuously Evaluate What's Needed: Multi-channel employee listening allows leaders to engage in a “continuous conversation at scale." It's critical to continue to reassess the scope and composition of your benefits package, and its ability to meet your employees' needs as they evolve.

A Bold Call to Action This International Women’s Day

As we commemorate International Women’s Day, let's remember that equitable benefits are not just a goal but a cornerstone of a truly inclusive and productive workplace. Employers must listen, act, and continuously evolve their benefits offerings to meet the needs of all employees, fostering an environment where everyone can thrive.

Perceptyx stands ready to guide organizations on this journey. Through strategic listening and targeted action, we can help bridge the benefits gap, ensuring that every employee feels valued and heard. To learn more, schedule a meeting with a member of our team.

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