Gender equity is a cause many companies are still fighting to achieve. One area in particular to improve women’s equity is in company health and wellness programs. Here are six impactful ideas for improving women’s health equity throughout the arc of their careers.
Building women’s health equity from their very first professional position is essential. Providing rich programs and opportunities for women early in their careers sets up a powerful foundation for them as they continue to age and grow.
Beginning their first job in their field after graduation is the first step for many into the “real world” with adult responsibilities and expectations. It can be overwhelming, to say the least. This seismic shift can lead to the onset or aggravation of mental conditions for young professionals
On top of drastically changing life conditions, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression as men. One-third of women surveyed have reported they have taken time away from work to treat their mental health. The Artemis book of business comprised of 50.3% women, showed higher rates of mental health related claims in the female adult population at 15.5% compared to 9.5% of men. Strong mental health is key to productive employees and can reduce time away from the office.
Employers should be mindful of providing healthcare and insurance benefits that cover mental health care in addition to standard physical ailments. To gain the most use out of these benefits, employers should also ensure their employees are well aware of the mental health options available to them.
Young workers entering the field tend to have high expectations and even higher hopes for their careers. However, 45% of women say their job is not advancing fast enough, which leads them to feel disgruntled and unmotivated. Visibly advocating for women in the workplace and promoting equal opportunity for advancement is just as critical as building mental health equity. This can reduce stress and anxiety around their current job positions, and lead to a healthier, happier workforce.
According to the Census Bureau, the pay gap widens the most as women continue to progress in their careers. This makes women in experienced management roles the most critical time for employers to support and build health equity.
The cost of childcare continues to rise. In 2020 and 2021, households reported spending over $10,000 on childcare alone. This large financial burden caused over 3 million mothers to exit the workforce entirely.
Rather than lose valuable employees, employers can build health equity and show immense value to women by providing childcare support. Popular childcare support options include offering onsite childcare, discounts or subsidies on offsite childcare, or flexible work arrangements like hybrid options.
Offering robust healthcare plans with preventative wellness incentives is a great way to continue building health equity in women as they age. Prevention is much more cost-efficient and avoids lost hours of productivity for employers than employees with active medical conditions. Along with anxiety and depression, women are also more likely to be diagnosed with IBS, migraines, and breast cancer. Prevention and consistent treatment of these conditions can avoid time away from the desk.
Employers building health equity in their female employees may look like this:
Toward the peak of their career, women will often be in leadership positions, managing large teams or high-level projects. As they age, opportunities to build health equity for women only continue to increase.
Our analytics database, indicated that menopause related claims have increased by 7.6% in the past year, along with treatment spending which is up 10.5%. Typically menopause begins around age 45, when women undergo a dramatic hormonal and health shift. During this time, women often experience hot flashes, low energy, restless sleep, and more. If left unaided, menopause can directly impact their effectiveness at work. 58.8% of those being treated are the primary subscriber (employee). However, employers can help women combat these negative effects and stay engaged in their work with a few simple options.
As women in the workplace continue to age, so do their parents and relatives. Offering benefits and flexibility to those providing end-of-life care to an elderly parent can alleviate stress and burnout. Supporting their familial obligations may also allow women to stay in the workforce longer, providing more years of dedicated work for employers.
Just like tackling heart health prevention among employees, building women’s health equity is an ongoing and evolving process. For employers prioritizing women’s health, an employee survey of the most requested benefit from the list above may be an ideal way to decide where to begin. However, no matter which career phase employers begin to invest in, results will be seen in both employee satisfaction and the long-term health of female employees.