Neha Mirchandani, CMO and Head of People at financial wellness firm, BrightPlan explains what employers need to know about DEI and financial wellness today.
The pandemic-fuelled recession disproportionately impacted underrepresented minorities, especially women, who lost more jobs and recovered slower than their white male counterparts. With heightened employee awareness of these disparities, leading employers have doubled down on their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) commitments over the past year. Some employers may already have DEI initiatives in place, but many are struggling to improve the effectiveness of such programmes and enable the overall wellbeing of their employees.
Given the economic reality faced by employees from underrepresented backgrounds, employers have the opportunity to boost their efforts by fostering a sense of financial security in their employee wellbeing and DEI initiatives.
Start with inclusion
Inclusion, although listed last in DEI, plays an important role in employee wellbeing. Without inclusion, diversity cannot thrive in the workplace. An inclusive environment is a place where every employee feels respected and welcomed. Fostering inclusion is also the first step towards creating a wellness culture for your people. Without it, wellbeing will suffer―and so will productivity and engagement. True diversity, equity, and inclusivity are about recognising each employee’s unique background and experience and supporting them to truly flourish in their workplace.
For employees from underrepresented groups, inclusion in the workplace needs to also include fostering a sense of financial security through equal pay, equal opportunity, and access to benefits, tools, and resources that they can use with confidence.
Employee wellbeing, including physical, mental, and financial wellbeing, is top of mind for employers today. Many employees are caring for children or other family members or have experienced disruptions in their lives, resulting in worsening physical, mental, and financial health.
In addition, BrightPlan’s 2021 Wellness Barometer Survey indicates stress has skyrocketed among employees, negatively impacting productivity and engagement, not to mention increasing medical costs down the road.
Many employers are stepping up to help their employees get their wellbeing back on track with mental health and return to care initiatives for example, but most are missing the top cause of employee stress―finances― and this is especially affecting employees from underrepresented backgrounds and those with access to fewer resources.
DEI and financial wellness
Fundamentally DEI initiatives need to go beyond increasing representation in the workplace and support employees where it matters most―their overall wellbeing, including their financial health. Ensuring equal access to career opportunities and equal pay are the first steps in this journey, but employers can have a bigger impact by empowering employees to turn their wages into long-term wealth.
As employers seek to make their workplaces more inclusive, it’s important to include financial wellness as part of your DEI strategy and ensure that the programmes offered are accessible to all employees. An inclusive workplace empowers employees to navigate their financial lives with confidence, including supporting their ability to overcome financial setbacks and providing guidance about building wealth.
An employee’s financial life is closely tied to their employer as the main source of income and benefits. Most employees trust their employer and welcome unbiased guidance from them about their finances. When employees are empowered to do what is best for them financially, they can be their best selves at work and contribute towards the achievement of their employers’ business goals.
Financially well employees are also likely to better contribute to an overall positive workplace experience. This leads to more productive and engaged employees.
Neha Mirchandani is CMO + Head of People at BrightPlan. Her company offers a financial wellness solution certified for fiduciary excellence that is real-time, personalised, and integrated with employer benefits.