Inclusive Wellness Series: How to create an inclusive financial wellness program

Seven benefits offer greater coverage toward diversity goals.

By Kathie Harris      
Inclusive financial wellness program

Wellness and inclusion are top of mind for many organizations, especially those looking to retain and attract talent, raise productivity rates and lower healthcare costs.

Copyright HR.com report “The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” 2021

In this three-part series, Workplace Wellness Insider talks with subject matter experts that offer advice and experience with creating inclusive programs around physical, financial and emotional wellness. We first covered physical wellness. Next up: financial wellness programs.

Financial wellness programs significantly impact inequality because wealth is a driving force for inclusion. A 2019 Federal Reserve Board (FRB) study found that typical white families had eight times more wealth than typical Black families and five times more wealth than typical Hispanic families. The FRB study noted that the wealth gap hadn’t changed much since its 2016 study.

Financial stress impacts all workers, but moreso those in minority groups. An April Pew Research survey showed 73% of Black adults and 70% of Hispanic adults didn’t have emergency funds to cover three months of expenses, compared to 47% of white adults.

Kim Clark

“The workplace is trying to put a band-aid over a lot of issues but not trying to really understand the roots,” says Kim Clark, a DE&I communications consultant.

For instance, Clark says that’s why tech companies invest in tech education and access, working with community organizations to get funding for underrepresented or lower socio-economic communities. This would give them access to tech education because public schools aren’t offering it,  Clark explains.

“A lot of the role of companies has become trying to fill in the gaps where society and government are lacking,” says Clark.

Based on current trends in benefits, especially where the intersection of equity and financial wellness meet, these seven benefits have been shown to offer more inclusion:

Multinational software company Cadence Design Systems was recognized this year by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.” The San Jose-based organization employs more than 8,000 people.

As part of an annual survey, employees increasingly agree year over year that Cadence offers special and unique benefits.

Crystal Ruocchio

“This year’s score was 10 points higher than in 2018 and 6 points higher than in 2019 and shows that employees are feeling increasingly positive about the benefits we’re offering,” says Crystal Ruocchio, benefits director.

To make benefits more inclusive, Cadence:

  • Uses inclusive language to cover both different-sex and same-sex spouses and partners.
  • Offers family formation benefits that cover adoption/surrogacy reimbursement, fertility support, infertility treatment, and paid family leave to all partners.
  • Offers transition-related care for transgender colleagues.
  • Coaches employees on college and financial matters.
  • Pays for backup childcare and eldercare.

“Cadence is constantly updating and modifying benefits based on what we hear from employees,” Ruocchio says. “It’s important that we try new programs and expand our benefits to meet the needs of our employees.”

In response to the pandemic’s financial burden, Cadence implemented a $1,000 expense policy to help all employees establish their home offices. It was made for new hires as well and covered employees globally. It also created a quarterly expense claim option for employees to report home internet costs, up to $25 a month.

“This total of 10 plus million dollars showcases our commitment to our employees and the investment we’re making to create a better environment for remote work during these challenging times,” says Ruocchio. “Creating an environment of inclusion and respect is a core element of Cadence’s One Team culture.”