Attitudes to work have changed dramatically in recent years. And now more than ever, people want to work for companies that take diversity, equality, inclusion and employee wellbeing seriously. Over three-quarters of UK workers would consider looking for a job elsewhere if their employer had no diversity, equality & inclusion strategy, with some workers even prioritising diversity over salary.
There are a number of ways to promote inclusion and create diversity within your teams. And one tool which is often overlooked is offering fertility and family-forming support. 1 in 7 couples have difficulty conceiving, yet only 25% of employees feel that their employer has a supportive workplace policy in place to help them through it. Here’s why introducing a fertility policy can help you become a more diverse and inclusive employer.
1. Fertility support boosts productivity and wellbeing
Fertility struggles are painful. Many of the people we’ve worked with at Apryl who’ve struggled with their fertility have described it as one of the most difficult events of their life. So supporting employees through fertility difficulties is a brilliant way to boost their wellbeing and show them that you care. Fertility support can take many forms – including fertility leave and helping employees pay for fertility treatments – but beyond this, it’s also important to provide employees with access to expert pastoral care throughout their fertility journey, to reduce the stress and anxiety fertility difficulties can bring.
2. You can cultivate a culture of mutual trust and loyalty
Around 60,000 people use fertility services every year in the UK – yet a recent poll of 1,300 fertility patients revealed that 58% feel concerned that fertility treatment would affect their career prospects. This simply shouldn’t be the case. Employees deserve clarity and transparency around what they’re entitled to should they need time off for fertility-related care or illness; and need to be able to trust that they will not face stigma or prejudice as a result of their fertility struggles at work.
Having a transparent and inclusive fertility support policy in place will help employees know where they stand, will encourage a supportive and inclusive culture where taking time off to have a family is not seen as a barrier to success or progression in your career, and can help you to attract talent of all ages and backgrounds.
3. You can help to change attitudes around fertility, parenthood and family forming
There are lots of different ways to start a family; and families take many forms. But it can still be difficult for certain groups to access the care they need to have children. This is particularly true for single people and LGBTQI couples, who must self-fund multiple rounds of IUI before being able to access treatments like IVF on the NHS. A survey from DIVA magazine, Kantar and Stonewall revealed that a staggering 36% of queer women, trans men and non-binary people are affected by the sky-high costs of private fertility treatment.
By helping your employees access and pay for a wide range of fertility services – from egg and sperm freezing, to IVF, adoption and surrogacy – you can support every employee to access the care they need, regardless of their gender, relationship status or sexual orientation. This is transformative. Not only can this dramatically widen access to fertility care for everyone who needs it, but it can also help to progress inclusive attitudes to fertility and family forming within your business and in society at large.
4. You can help end the stigma around different health needs
Since the pandemic, employers have started to realise that giving people the freedom and flexibility to work remotely, and work around medical appointments and other responsibilities when needed, results in happier and more productive people. But there’s still some way to go when it comes to fully embracing and supporting employees’ health at work. Increasingly, employers are starting to offer things like menopause leave to support women’s health. And many employers are also becoming more adaptive and supportive of employees with disabilities. Offering fertility support is another key way in which employers can show that they are inclusive and understanding of the physical, emotional and psychological impact of all kinds of health problems, and are prepared to accommodate employees’ needs as much as they can.
Diversity, equality & inclusion is an ever increasing priority for employers, and fertility support is by no means the only way to promote and support diversity. But it can be a brilliant tool to nurture an inclusive working environment where employees feel supported and know that their lives and responsibilities outside of work are not only recognised, but respected. If you’re looking for ways to support, enhance and diversify your teams next year, exploring the potential of family forming and fertility benefits could be the perfect place to start.
Jenny Saft is CEO and co-founder at Apryl: a fertility benefits platform helping companies across Europe offer staff access to inclusive fertility and family-forming services. Prior to starting Apryl, Jenny worked in project management and Business Development at several big companies, including Fyber in San Francisco and Dutch fintech Adyen. She was inspired to start Apryl following her own experience of freezing her eggs. In addition to founding Apryl, Jenny is an angel investor, investing in early-stage startups through the Atomico Angel Programme.