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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Workplace Benefits

Employers 10.12.2022 7 MIN

The pandemic and “Great Resignation” moved Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) into the spotlight as employees reevaluated their priorities and unique needs—and employers responded with tailored support. This new paradigm for the employer-employee relationship is continuing to evolve, as is its impact on how companies recruit and retain top talent. 

Workers have put their—and their families’—wellness at the top of the list when evaluating current or future employers for their business and benefits environments. Through the DE&I lens, “wellness” covers each individual’s unique personal and professional needs. For companies to succeed and compete, the support they provide their workforce must address a myriad of concerns and themes that are different for every employee: fostering a diverse workforce, equitable compensation and development, a true commitment to work-life balance and mental wellbeing, a clear position on climate change and other sustainability issues, and more.

The impact of these initiatives is clear. Fostering a more inclusive and equitable environment can have a direct impact on recruiting and retaining top talent. ADP’s annual People at Work Study for 2022 showed that 76% of employees would consider seeking new employment if they discovered an unfair gender pay gap or lack of a DE&I plan at their company.1


Top-down approach

As with all company-wide initiatives, success hinges on senior leadership buy-in as the primary driver and practical example. It is their responsibility to establish short- and long-term diversity goals, expectations and incentives for management and the company as a whole.

Some notable examples of benchmarks in use across Goldman Sachs Ayco’s corporate partners include:

  • Adding diversity as a component of strategic performance goals for executives, with 50% of annual cash incentive pay tied to achieving these objectives
  • Utilizing a diversity scorecard to award points when the company meets certain benchmarks for hiring, promoting and retaining women and other underrepresented groups
  • Mandating anti-bias training for executives and tying compensation to the successful increase of minority representation over the next five years


The findings of a 2021 survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services bear out the impact of leadership’s DE&I “heavy lifting” on workforce engagement. It showed a direct correlation between companies that develop and implement a thoughtful, meaningful DE&I strategy and an increase in team diversity, employee engagement and the ability to recruit top talent. In the study, establishing metrics for tracking progress was a key driver in success.2


A focus on benefits—physical, mental and financial wellness

From health benefits to work hour flexibility—physical, mental and financial wellness issues were at the top of Pew’s research into the factors behind the “Great Resignation.”3 What are some of the underlying concerns that are driving the employee wellness conversation?


Cash flow and debt management

Income inequality and college debt are just two segments of an overall cycle that feeds into many Americans’ personal financial crises. We’re living in a time when 43% of American workers are struggling to just meet their basic needs and 41% are living paycheck to paycheck .4 Inequality creeps into the student debt formula: while the average debt is $28,950, that number is $25,000 higher for black and African American than white college graduates.5,6

Employers are responding to these needs by offering their employees tools to address their unique financial and student debt needs:

  • From digital tools and one-on-one counseling to group education financial wellness/education can help employees navigate their financial life. Goldman Sachs Ayco offers a group education program specifically designed to address the financial challenges faced by marginalized groups.
  • We’ve seen companies offer savings/emergency accounts that employees can contribute to through regular payroll deductions. Some give employees access as part of financial wellness benefits, while others open the door to banks and credit unions with special rates for savings and loans.
  • Close to 30% of Goldman Sachs Ayco’s corporate partners now offer some form of student debt assistance. While most are focused on refinancing options, we’ve seen unique solutions, such as allowing employees to redirect unused vacation time toward a loan payment.
  • Tuition reimbursement can be an invaluable benefit for employees who may not otherwise be able to afford college—and a powerful tool to attract candidates and retain existing employees.
  • Lifestyle spending accounts are employer-funded accounts that aim to assist employees with various life and wellness expenses. Employers often establish and fund these types of accounts in order to provide employees with supplemental compensation that can be directed toward a variety of personal expenses that boost wellness such as student loans, tax prep, gym membership, and care for loved ones or pets.


More information on these offerings, and the impact of inflation on benefits, can be found in this article.


Retirement saving

Retirement saving may be down the priority list for employees facing difficulties keeping up with their day-to-day financial conditions, but it is crucial for long-term financial wellness. This could be one reason why only 65% of eligible workers participate in their 401(k) plan – with African American and Latino households severely lagging white households in 401(k) or IRA participation and the age at which they start saving for retirement.7

Recognizing that their employees need help getting and staying on retirement track, 80% of our corporate partners are offering automatic enrollment in their 401(k) plan, typically at the percentage needed to maximize the employer’s matching contribution.8 The impact of this benefit can’t be ignored: According to a Vanguard study, 91% of employees participate in a 401(k) plan with an automatic enrollment feature, compared to only 28% when one isn’t in place.9

Employers are also tailoring their retirement offerings to address their employees’ personal preferences, including through ESG funds. Another key feature that can boost retirement savings is auto escalation, which is an automated mechanism for employees to increase their contribution rate each year.


Caregiving benefits

The pandemic shined a light for all employers and employees on the importance of a caregiving safety net when a family member requires long-term personal attention. With flexibility in general and for caregiving specifically, companies can help provide the space for every individual to have their needs met. Offering the opportunity for employees to set their own schedule to work around care needs or take additional paid leave without fear of financial consequences can improve loyalty and retention.

We’ve also seen 130% growth from 2020-2022 in companies we partner with who provide child and elder care assistance. When regular care is unavailable for an employee’s loved one, these programs provide care assistance through a database of fully vetted caregivers.10 Typically, they offer employees a fixed number of days per year (10–15 days on average). To meet diverse needs, it’s important the care can be provided either in-home or at a care center.

Another benefit that companies can provide is a dependent care FSA (DCFSA), a type of account that allows employees to save pre-tax dollars for dependent care expenses throughout the year. Currently, a very small number of our partners also provide an employer contribution to employee DCFSAs.


Family planning benefits

The medical and financial challenges for couples who require assistance in starting a family can often be physically taxing and emotionally overwhelming.

  • For the one in eight couples who experience fertility problems, they’re faced with the stark financial reality of trying to conceive: a single IVF cycle can range from $15-30,000—and since couples often go through multiple cycles, the cost can become staggering.11, 12
  • For couples considering surrogacy, the associated costs can range from $100-200,000.13
  • According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, adopting a child in the United States costs an average $20-45,000 and between $20-50,000 for an international adoption.14

And no matter how a couple adds to their family, they have to balance new caregiving with the demands of their jobs. These are some ways that companies are assisting couples with family planning:

  • Over half of Goldman Sachs Ayco’s corporate partners currently offer some reimbursement for costs associated with adoption or surrogacy.
  • These partners have also expanded their benefits by increasing what’s covered under their existing health plans and adding dedicated fertility benefits. Over one-third of our corporate partners now provide fertility benefit solutions, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), egg freezing, pre-implantation genetic screening and personalized support when employees are looking to grow their family.
  • In recent years, employers have increasingly expanded parental leave benefits to account for diverse parenting situations. Beyond standard maternity leave, many employers are now offering leave for fathers, domestic partners, foster parents and individuals acting in lieu of a parent. Employers are also increasingly upping the amount of leave permitted for adoptions and surrogate births.


Trans benefits

A Gallup poll released in February 2022 found that the number of adults in the U.S. who identify as something other than heterosexual doubled from 3.5 percent in 2012 to 7.1%, with younger U.S. adults much more likely to identify as LGBTQ than older generations.15 Unfortunately, despite this growth the LGBTQ community struggles with issues navigating the healthcare industry. More than 40% of the LGBTQ community reported they have experienced discrimination by a healthcare provider, which has, in turn, led to mistrust and an avoidance of care. LGBTQ individuals are 2-3 times more likely to avoid care than straight and cisgendered individuals.16

There’s a common misconception that inclusive benefits will dramatically drive up healthcare costs; however, many employers reported an overall increase of only 3.5% from implementing partner benefits and minimal increases related to transgender-inclusive benefits.17 A full 91 percent of the Fortune 500 have gender identity protections enumerated in their nondiscrimination policies (up from 3 percent in 2002).18

Typical benefits in this space include:

  • Mental health benefits
  • Pharmaceutical coverage for hormone therapy
  • Coverage for medical visits or laboratory services related to hormone therapy
  • Coverage for surgical procedures
  • Short-term medical leave for procedures such as re-assignment surgery19


For more additional information on this topic, read Benefits for the LGBTQ community: What does it mean to be inclusive?

We serve as an extension of our corporate partners’ HR teams to help employees maximize the value of benefits and compensation. Contact us to learn more.



  1. Gonzalez, Matt, “Workers Expect Equal Pay, DE&I Policies from Employers,” SHRM, May 11, 2022
  2. “DEI Metrics,” SHRM, 2021
  3. Parker, Kim and Menasce Horowitz, Juliana, “Majority of workers who quit a job in 2021 cite low pay, no opportunities for advancement, feeling disrespected,” Pew Research Center, March 9, 2022
  4. “3 in 10 U.S. workers struggling financially, WTW survey finds,” WTW, June 16, 2022
  5. Hahn, Alicia and Tarver, Jordan, “2022 Student Loan Debt Statistics: Average Student Loan Debt,” Forbes, June 9, 2022
  6. Hanson, Melanie, “Student Loan Debt by Race,” Education Data Initiative, March 10, 2022
  7. William Bassett, Michael Fleming and Anthony Rodrigues, “How Workers Use 401(k) Plans: The Participation, Contribution, and Withdrawal Decisions,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  8. Based on data from 310 Goldman Sachs Ayco corporate partners, as of October 2022.
  9. Anderson, Brian, “New Data Further Showcases Power of Auto Enrollment,” 401(k) Specialist, March 18, 2021
  10. Based on data from 310 Goldman Sachs Ayco corporate partners, as of October 2022.
  11. “Infertility Stats You Should Know,” FertilityAnswers
  12. Conrad, Melissa, “How Much Does IVF Cost?” Forbes, June 27, 2022
  13. Braverman, Beth, “How Much Surrogacy Costs and How to Pay for it,” U.S. News and World Report, June 2, 2022
  14. Mushro, Amanda, “How much does the average adoption cost? A breakdown by state and country,” Today, July 26, 2022
  15. Jurcaba, Jo, “Percentage of LGBTQ adults in U.S. has doubled over past decade, Gallup finds,” NBC News, February 17, 2022
  16. Peralta, Paola, “’A basic human right’: Why your benefits may be failing your LGBTQ employees,” ebn, June 1, 2021
  17. “Benefits for the LGBTQ community: What does it mean to be inclusive?” Goldman Sachs Ayco Personal Financial Management, July 15, 2019
  18. “Corporate Equality Index 2022,” Human Rights Campaign, 2022
  19. Goldman Sachs Ayco Personal Financial Management, 2019