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How organizations can better support LGBTQ families

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There is no single pathway to parenthood for LGBTQ employees, and the support they’re receiving from their employers continues to fall short.

Eighty-three percent of LGBTQ individuals looking to build a family said they would consider leaving their current employer for one that offers family-building benefits, according to a recent report from fertility care provider Progyny. If employers want to succeed in creating inclusive environments, they’re going to have to make significant changes to their approach

“Whether they realize it or not, many companies that offer fertility benefits have restrictive policies in place that limit their LGBTQ employees from accessing the care they need,” says Cynthia McEwen, Progyny’s head of DEI. “And when companies exclude the needs of LGBTQ individuals in their family-building benefits, it can lead to substantial financial and emotional stress, discouraging LGBTQ employees from pursuing their family-building goals.”

Read more: Liberty Mutual’s LGBTQ ERG celebrates 10 years of supporting inclusivity at work

For example, 49% of family planning benefits require a precertification or a medical diagnosis of infertility, which typically means that employees have to have a long medical history based on physical tests and lab work. This effectively bars many LGBTQ couples who may not have a traditional infertility diagnosis, but will still require fertility treatments or access to family-building care, forcing them to pay an average of $15,000 to $30,000 out of pocket per fertility cycle, according to a survey from GoodRx Health.    

This proves to be especially concerning when 76% of queer employees also express a need for either adoption or surrogacy benefits, which could cost the average family between $20,000 and $50,000, according to Child Welfare Information Gateway. As a result, 76% of respondents are concerned about these costs. 

Benefits should be inclusive of all paths to parenthood, according to McEwen. This includes providing coverage for adoption, surrogacy and fertility treatments without the requirement of a medical infertility diagnosis. Better access benefits companies as well, increasing employee loyalty, commitment and retention, she says.   

Read more: 20% of queer employees fear coming out will damage their careers

Through expanded coverage, employers can also provide access to counseling services that specialize in LGBTQ concerns to ensure employees have the resources and support they need throughout their journey and beyond. In addition, employers could also leverage employee resource groups to offer support and create a sense of community for queer families

“Inclusive family-building benefits are not just about supporting LGBTQ employees,” McEwen says. “They are about creating more inclusive and compassionate workplaces for all.”


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