The journey to building a family can be an emotionally and financially taxing one. Fertility treatments and procedures, while offering hope to many, can also pose a significant financial burden. Recognizing this, many employers are now providing fertility coverage as part of their employee benefits packages. This not only helps alleviate some of the financial stress for independent parents, but it also fosters a more diverse and inclusive workplace regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or single or partnered status.
Sounds like a win-win, right? Well, not all companies have caught on yet.
If that describes where you work, don't worry. In this article, we'll explore how you can advocate for fertility benefits at work, drawing insights from RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and Mercer, a leading global consulting firm.
How to advocate for fertility benefits at work
Fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg freezing, and surrogacy can be expensive, and insurance coverage plays a critical role in making these options accessible to a broader range of individuals and couples.
According to the RESOLVE 2021 Survey on Fertility Benefits, as it currently stands, only 27% of large employers offer fertility benefits. However, this number has risen in recent years, with Mercer's survey showing a significant increase in employers offering fertility benefits to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.
While your company may not be there yet, if you don't ask you won't receive. Here are a few ways you can make the argument for fertility coverage at your job:
First and foremost, make sure you understand your company's existing benefits package and policies. Research your state's laws regarding fertility treatment coverage and available benefits. This knowledge will be critical when presenting your case for expanding these benefits at work.
Building a network of colleagues who share your concerns and goals can lend more weight to your advocacy efforts. Discussing fertility benefits with coworkers can help you better understand if others share the same values and whether they are willing to join forces to advocate for change.
Know the business case
When advocating for fertility benefits, it's essential to communicate the positive impact they can have on the company as a whole. Mercer's survey found that companies offering fertility benefits reported higher employee satisfaction and retention, while also leading to a more diverse and inclusive workplace supportive of all paths to parenthood.
Pitch the diversity, equity, and inclusion angle
According to Mercer, today, many companies see fertility benefits as central to their diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives. If your company hasn't quite joined the movement, presenting fertility benefits as a DEI initiative may resonate with leadership, as these benefits can help address the family-building challenges many employees could potentially face.
Engage human resources
Schedule a meeting with your HR department to discuss the possibility of expanding your company's fertility benefits. Share relevant data from RESOLVE's incredible library of resources to help support your case. Highlight the stories of other companies that have successfully implemented such benefits, as well as your own personal fertility story, if you're comfortable doing so.
Leverage employee resource groups (ERGs)
If your company has employee resource groups focused on women's issues, family planning, or DEI, these groups can be powerful allies in advocating for increased fertility coverage. They can help amplify your message, crowdsource, and even provide additional perspectives to management.
Provide a cost-benefit analysis
Address any possible concerns about the financial impact of fertility benefits by providing a cost-benefit analysis. Showcase the long-term benefits, and present this promising data by Carrot, which shows that 97% of companies have not seen an increase in costs since they started offering fertility coverage.
Present a wide variety of options
Present fertility benefit options that accommodate various family-building paths. This may include coverage for fertility treatments, adoption assistance, surrogacy support, and more.
Organize information sessions or workshops to raise employee awareness about fertility benefits. Provide real-life examples of how these benefits have positively impacted employees' lives in the past, or how they could help in the future.
Persist and collaborate
Change takes time, so be prepared for this to be a process involving ongoing discussions, negotiations, and adjustments. Collaborate with other advocates, continue to gather new data, and keep pushing for progress.
Remember: Advocating for fertility benefits at work is about more than just securing financial support for family-building endeavors; it's a step toward building a more inclusive and supportive work environment for all. You've got this!
Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo is a writer, public speaker, infertility advocate, author of the blog “The 2 Week Wait,” and a proud in vitro fertilization (IVF) mom of 2 boys. This article is based on her own fertility journey.