In recent years, a series of cultural and social shifts have brought conversations about fertility into the mainstream. Women are waiting longer to have children, more LGBTQ+ people are planning on starting or growing their families, and younger people — men and women — are more educated about their fertility health than ever before. All of this awareness has driven demand for fertility and family-building benefits at work. Today 23% of large employers offer fertility benefits to their employees, but that also means the majority of people still aren’t covered. Fertility and family-building journeys can be expensive, complex, time consuming, stressful, and emotionally draining. Having fertility coverage at work makes a big difference for your bank account and mental health. While speaking to your supervisor about something personal like your fertility may feel daunting, studies show that 65 percent of employers offer fertility benefits in direct response to employee requests. So how do you ask for fertility benefits at work? Here are a few tips:
Do your research
Most would agree that fertility benefits are a nice thing to have, but there is also a business case for companies to offer them to their employees. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) has become a business imperative for many employers and fertility benefits are increasingly seen as central to DEI. Numerous studies also show that fertility benefits are key to attracting and retaining great people and keeping them engaged at work. Employees who had their IVF covered reported being more likely to remain in their job for a longer period (62%), were more willing to overlook shortcomings of their employer (53%), and were more likely to work harder (22%), according to research by FertilityIQ.
Approach HR (or enlist an ally)
Even with research in hand, it can be daunting to reach out to HR about something so personal in nature. If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to someone at your company on the benefits/people team on your own, it’s helpful to have an ally. It’s important to know that you’re not alone in wanting or needing fertility benefits. One third of U.S. adults have used fertility treatments or know someone who has, so chances are you will be able to find someone within your organization to support you. It can be helpful to have an executive advocate, or someone else, like a manager, colleague of an employee resource group (ERG) representative to help you navigate the process with you or on your behalf.
There is strength in numbers
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are often the catalyst for change for workplace programs within an organization. ERGs are employee-led groups that bring together people with similar backgrounds, identities, or interests. Some common ERGs form around culture, race, and ethnicity, parenting, gender identity, and professional development. Enlisting the support of an ERG can be a great way to capture HR’s attention, because it highlights the number of people who want and/or support having fertility benefits at work. If you’d like to get ERG support, send a note to the ERG leader and ask if fertility benefits are something the group would be willing to support and how best to work together to approach HR.
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