Author :Zoya Ali BSc MSc
Deciding to start a family can be exciting but also daunting, particularly for some employees who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, as their journey to parenthood might need some more support.
Being a 21st-century employer means establishing an inclusive, progressive and supportive work environment to attract and retain employees.
A 2017 study by Mercer found that 33% of UK respondents do not offer equal benefits to LGBTQ+ employees because they do not know how to implement such a benefit!
Here are some ways to provide support to your LGBTQ+ employees in their fertility journeys
1. Recognise that there are multiple paths to parenthood
Partner with experts to raise awareness about the advances in fertility treatments such as IVF (in vitro fertilisation), IUI (intrauterine insemination), surrogacy, etc. These technologies make it possible for LGBTQ+ couples to have biologically related children.
Refer your employee to resources that may help them understand the basics of all things reproductive health will make them more confident in their reproductive journeys.
2. Don’t treat fertility treatment as a lifestyle choice
Gender-affirming treatments can impact fertility and therefore many require fertility preservation, such as freezing eggs, sperm or embryos before medical transition.
With the numbers of NHS-funded cycles declining rapidly, LGBTQ+ couples have to fulfil extensive criteria before being eligible for a funded cycle, because of which, many are opting for private treatment, where the average cost per cycle can be about £5,000, varying significantly depending on the treatment options chosen and the clinic (HFEA).
Listen to feedback from employees, ask them what they would want to feel more supported in their choices and try to develop policies around them.
Establishing fertility benefits policies – covering proactive fertility testing, fertility treatment or egg freezing costs or providing low-interest loans – can help align your interests with your employees, supporting their individual journeys to parenthood, facilitating equality, diversity and inclusion.
3. Ensure your fertility leave policies are inclusive
If you have existing family planning and health benefit policies, revisit the language and clauses to ensure LGBTQ+ employees are eligible for the equal benefits to support them as they embark on their parenthood journey, whether that be through fertility treatment, surrogacy, adoption, or parental leave.
About Hertility Health
Hertility Health is shaping the future of Reproductive Health by giving women the ability to understand and manage their fertility and hormone health from menstruation to menopause. One in three women suffer with a reproductive health issue, yet conversations around fertility, menopause and menstrual symptoms are still stigmatised in the workplace. As employees suffer in silence – up to £4k is lost per year per employee due to reduced productivity, absenteeism and presenteeism.