Recently at Holler we held a fireside chat with Paul Grossinger, the founder of Gaingels. Gaingels seeks top investment returns by co-investing with the best venture capital firms and seeks to influence social change through business by investing in companies that embrace LGBT+ leadership. Gaingels also selectively invests in category-leading growth stage companies where they can help add C-suite LGBT+ talent.
One of the takeaways from our chat was the importance of offering inclusive, diverse benefits to employees, in turn promoting equality. We set off to find out how inclusive our benefit offerings were at that time and to look for areas where we could improve upon or invest in to further inclusivity. The ultimate goal was to ensure Holler is offering benefits that help maintain employee health and allow our employees to be their unique selves.
First, we researched to find what benefits are inclusive/diverse and found that as important as things like healthcare plans are, there are other benefits that can support groups like working parents and older workers. We determined that the inclusive benefits that were most important to offer were: generous paid parental leave, rotating holidays, flexible time off / generous PTO, remote work, service days, training/professional development, flexible work hours, mental health benefits and LGBTQ+ friendly healthcare plans.
After conducting an internal audit we found that Holler already offers the following:
Generous Paid Parental Leave
Why It’s Important: The United States is the only developed country in the world without federal paid parental leave and time and time again studies have shown that women are negatively impacted by the lack of support following the birth or adoption of a child. Companies with a generous parental leave program and a solid return to work plan offer much stronger support for women who chose to, or need to, return to work.
What We’re Doing at Holler: With 16 weeks for the primary care provider and 4 weeks for the secondary care provider we designed a parental leave policy that would help support women returning to work. We also offer additional support to ensure women feel supported for the entirety of the process, starting from planning their leave and carrying on through their return to the workplace. You can learn more about our approach to parental leave here.
Why It’s Important: It will come as no surprise to most that as diverse of a country the US is, not everyone celebrates the same holidays. Offering a rotating holiday schedule allows a greater chance that the holidays our employees do celebrate is offered as a holiday and isn’t a day they need to use paid time off.
What We’re Doing at Holler: Holler’s approach to rotating holidays is different from the standard programs that give a couple of floating holidays to their employees to use as needed. We chose to instead offer specific holidays that change each year and build programming around those holidays in an effort to educate our employees on these diverse holidays.
Flexible / Generous Paid Time Off
Why It’s Important: Similar to rotating holidays, employees of all backgrounds, cultures and religious beliefs should have ample time to take off for both vacation and religious or cultural celebrations with having to sacrifice one or the other.
What We’re Doing at Holler: Holler offers 20 days of paid vacation annually along with 9 sick days.
LGBTQ+ Friendly Healthcare Plans
Why It’s Important: The LGBTQ+ community has many of the same healthcare needs as the rest of the population but sometimes encounter additional needs that standard healthcare plans do not cover. Ensuring you offer coverage specific to this group will make these employees feel appreciated and included in the organization.
What We’re Doing at Holler: We recently changed healthcare providers and it was a great opportunity to evaluate the healthcare that would be available to all employees and how inclusive it would be. We chose Oxford, owned by United Healthcare, which offers gender dysphoria treatment coverage. Additionally, with offices in New York and California, our employees are covered under mandated IVF (in-vitro fertilization) insurance coverage.
Mental Health Benefits
Why It’s Important: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime, and nearly one in five adults will experience mental illness in a given year. Companies that offer mental health benefits are sending the message they support all employees' mental health regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation or age.
What We’re Doing at Holler: During our healthcare provider change we made it a priority to understand what mental health benefits would be offered in the plans we were providing to our employees. Thankfully, it seems mental health benefits are becoming the norm and all the options we considered had mental health coverage.
Training and Professional Development
Why It’s Important: Oftentimes training and professional development programs are offered to technical employees, new managers or up and coming leaders, leaving the individual contributors behind. Providing access to learning and development opportunities to the entire company gives all employees the opportunity to further their career regardless of race, gender, age or how they identify.
What We’re Doing at Holler: While we will continue to explore more technical platforms for groups like our engineering and research teams, we first wanted to find a platform that all of our employees could benefit from. We were introduced to Fawzy Abu Seif, founder of Spokn. After an initial call with him we knew Spokn, a fully audio learning platform with learning across a variety of topics, was the right match for our company where it is today. We chose this platform because they have taken a modern day approach to learning - no screen time required, employees can listen to content on communication, productivity, managing people, leadership, mindset, strategy + innovation, career success, behavioral science, diversity, equity + inclusion, wellbeing, remote work, and sales. All of this learning can be done walking your dog or on what we are calling, Spokn Strolls! An added benefit is the ability for us to record our own internal materials for current employees and new hires.
Our goal this year is to start offering, or further offer, the following:
Remote Work Opportunities & Flexible Work Hours For All
Why It’s Important: There are many reasons that remote work can support employees. Parents may find that they can spend more time with their family on days they don’t have to commute into the office, and the older workers, chronically ill, and those with longer commutes may find less stress commuting to work daily. Flexible hours will offer much of the same benefits. Employees can work during the hours they are most productive or choose to commute during non rush hour.
What We’re Planning: While Holler does have plans to return to an in office work environment eventually, if there’s one thing 2020 has taught us it’s how productive our team can be outside of the office. Many of our team members have shared how positive remote working has been for them to avoid commuting, have more time with their children, or just work during the times that they are personally most productive. We plan to offer 2-3 days per week where our team can work remotely to continue to achieve these benefits.
Similar to remote work, we will also be offering more flexible work hours once we return to an in-office environment, which is new to us. We plan to have core business hours in the middle of the day, primarily for meetings, but otherwise allow our employees to work at the times that are best for their own situation and productivity level.
Service Days For All
Why It’s Important: One of Holler’s principles of diversity, inclusion and belonging is “We believe that businesses have the power to help shape society. Therefore, we need to be active members in our communities to create change around us, not just within us.” Our team feels the same way and what better way to make an impact than through organizations near and dear to the hearts of your employees?
What We’re Planning: Holler decided last year to offer two days in 2021 for our employees to either volunteer with underprivileged/underrepresented groups together or learn about diversity together. We look forward to putting this into practice this year and building future programming around it.
So what can you do to encourage your company to offer more inclusive benefits like those mentioned above? “Evolve or Die” is a phrase that I’ve been going back to time and time again over the last year, which has brought much needed change to our organization.
Offering inclusive benefits not only supports your current team and helps to retain the diverse workforce you have in place, but it also helps support hiring new talent. Make sure current employees are trained on the benefits they have access to and incorporate these inclusive benefits into your recruiting process. As always, the more awareness we can spread on the topic and the importance of updating our practices, the more companies will catch on and we can create meaningful change.
What benefits have your company offered that are inclusive? What else can companies be doing to ensure all employees have the benefits they need to celebrate who they are?