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How to Create an Inclusive Health Benefits Package to Support Your Company’s DE&I Goals

Lauren Hargrave · March 14, 2024 · 9 min read

building an inclusive workplace

Saying you want to foster an inclusive workplace is one thing, but putting your money where your words are is what really signals to both current and prospective employees that you mean it. Offering benefits that are inclusive and support the needs and wants of those from a diverse range of employees, especially those from underrepresented populations, is a powerful way to to show your people you truly care about their needs.

But before completely overhaul your benefits package, read this post. You might find that there are simple and cost-effective ways to bolster your current offerings and support your Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) initiatives without having to start from scratch. And Lively is here to help.

Amplify your existing benefits offerings

The first step is to review your current benefits offerings to see if they are inclusive and can be modified in a way that helps support your diverse workforce. To assess the inclusivity of your benefits package, ask yourself if your health insurance plan(s) covers treatments and medical services and procedures valuable to a range of team members. Do they cover services for those who are looking for support in becoming pregnant, identify as non-binary, trans and other members of the LGBTQ+ community, or need support for chronic conditions. Review your policies around parental and family leave as well as the language you use to describe it, as well as the working environment itself.


In order for your health insurance plan(s) and accounts to be considered inclusive, they should cover the treatments your workforce deems necessary and important. That means there’s coverage for:

  • Gender affirming care, including counseling, medication and surgery.

  • Family expansion expenses that include fertility treatments, adoption fees, surrogacy costs, etc.

  • In-patient and out-patient mental health services.

In order to assess the gaps in your current health insurance coverage, anonymously survey your employees. They’ll tell you what they want and need.

In addition to offering traditional health insurance plans that are inclusive of the needs of a diverse workforce, offering a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) and Health Savings Account (HSA) combination can help provide employees with more control over how their health insurance dollars are spent, and a tax-free way to save and spend those health insurance dollars on the medication, treatment and other medical services they value.

Additional accounts that you should consider are Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs), that can give employees a tax-free way to pay for needed medical services and treatments in addition to what their health insurance plan covers.

Parental leave and caretaking

While businesses are required to offer 12 weeks of family and medical leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), there’s more you can do to create a culture that supports employees that want to expand their families and who need to fulfill caretaking responsibilities. If you want your company to be a place that is inclusive of everyone, including those who are parents and caregivers, consider these actions:

  • Use neutral language when talking about leave associated with family expansion. That means not referring to it as maternity or paternity leave, but parental leave or caretaking leave. 

  • Expecting and encouraging the non-birthing parent to take leave to participate in this next chapter in their family’s life.

  • Providing a private, clean and comfortable place for lactating employees to pump or breastfeed (if that’s available).

  • Allowing time for the lactating employees to take care of those responsibilities.

  • Ensuring your benefits support family expansion by including a diversity of services and treatments such as fertility, lactation help, adoption, surrogacy, and egg and sperm donation.

  • Fostering a culture where either parent is expected and encouraged to take time off to care for the child(ren) including sick days, doctor visits, etc.

  • Provide benefits that help working parents get childcare on days when their children’s schools may be closed.

  • Provide ways for working parents and caregivers to pay for child and adult daycare that allows them to work.

  • Provide flexible working arrangements that help support the employees’ family systems.

Offering options such as a Dependent Care FSA and a Lifestyle Spending Account that covers family expansion services not covered by health insurance can show that your company takes caretaking seriously. In addition, offering a Flexible Spending Account and/or a Health Savings Account can help your team’s healthcare dollars go further.

Working environment

In order for employees to feel truly included and welcome in their working environment, it must be set up with them in mind. To create a physically inclusive office, spaces should include gender neutral bathrooms and lactation accommodations. There may be other such accommodations required by law in your state, but beyond following the law, the most important factor is that your employees feel comfortable, included, and welcomed in your workplace.

Whether your company is working in-office, remote, or hybrid, setting clear workplace expectations and documenting them can help employees feel confident about their work. When employees know exactly what is expected of them, they know how to meet (and exceed) those expectations. This includes:

  • Norms around working hours. If your teams have split time zones, then clearly state what is expected of employees in each time zone so they know when they should begin their day and can expect to end it.

  • Expectations around response times and availability. This is especially important if remote work and flexible working arrangements are prevalent in your company. 

  • Official policies around remote work. 

Online collaboration tools are important even if your entire workforce is in the office, but they’re even more important if you have remote work and flexible work policies in place. These platforms can help bridge the gap between in-office and remote staff and teams that are spread across different offices and time zones, creating a more cohesive culture.

You can also offer Lifestyle Spending Accounts that supports your team and helps create a cohesive, welcoming, and comfortable work environment. For example, you could offer an LSA that covers expenses for remote working, such as home office equipment, internet, or a coworking space. You could also offer commuter benefits and an LSA to reimburse employees for expenses that make coming to the office a little easier and more enjoyable, such as reimbursements for scooter or bike shares, coffee and meals at the office, and dry cleaning. Finally, LSAs can also cover expenses like concert and sports game tickets, accommodations, and airfare, which could be used for employee incentives or to show your company’s appreciation and support. 

Offer flexible employee benefits

Your health insurance plan may not cover the widest range of benefits that you need, so a range of additional savings and reimbursement accounts can help. They are cost-effective and customizable to reflect your company’s values and can be an effective way to help employees cover their costs.

  • HSAs are accounts into which employees and employers can deposit pre-tax money to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. The balances never expire (they rollover from year-to-year) and can be used by employees to save for big-ticket medical expenses like gender reassignment surgery. Employees can also invest their contributions so they grow at the rate of the market. In order to participate in an HSA, employees must also be enrolled in an High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).

  • Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSAs) are accounts into which employers deposit an allowance for employees to spend on pre-designated expenses. The employer has a lot of control over how the LSA is designed and which expenses are eligible for reimbursement. The LSA can be used to reimburse for general lifestyle expenses like gym memberships and wellness apps or can be used to pay for targeted expenses like adoption fees and surrogacy costs if not covered by health insurance. Employees pay income taxes on the amounts they reimburse for.

  • Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) are accounts into which employers deposit money for employees to reimburse for predetermined out-of-pocket medical expenses. There are different types of HRAs that can be used in different ways. For instance, the Integrated or Standard HRA can be paired with any type of health insurance plan and can be used to reimburse for IRS-approved expenses. Contributions to these accounts are tax-free to the employee.

  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are accounts into which employees and employers can deposit money to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Dependent Care FSAs cover caretaking expenses, and Limited Purpose FSAs can be used for dental and vision expenses. Like with the HSA, the IRS governs the type of expenses for which employees can reimburse from the FSA, but unlike the HSA, the employer owns these accounts. The employer absorbs any unused money at the end of the plan year unless the employer allows either a rollover (the amount of which is set each year by the IRS) or a 2 ½ month grace period in which employees can use their remaining funds. 

Ways Lively can help

Lively offers a suite of supportive benefits that can help bolster your DEI initiatives and strengthen your workplace culture. We have a best-in-class HSA that offers employees the opportunity to invest their savings either in a self-guided portfolio or guided portfolio, or the ability to keep their contributions completely in savings. We also offer an FSA, multiple LSAs that support family expansion and healthy, inclusive workplaces, a medical travel benefit and a Standard HRA. Our customer service is responsive and comprehensive and we provide everything you need to implement your benefits including employee communication and onboarding.

Get started today!

If you’re looking to uplevel your benefits package and super-charge your DEI efforts, reach out today. We can tailor your suite of offerings to fill the gaps in your coverage and ensure your entire employee base feels supported. We are your DEI partner every step of the way.

Lauren Hargrave

Lauren Hargrave

Lauren Hargrave is a writer from San Francisco who focuses on technology, finance and wellness. She follows comedians like most people follow bands and believes an outdoor sweat session can cure almost any bad mood. She’s also been writing her first novel for so long, her mom doesn’t ask about it anymore.

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Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.



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