With a population exceeding 29 million people, Texas is not only one of the largest economies in the world but also one of the largest US states. It is a diverse state, home to hundreds of ethnic groups with varying religions, races, genders, and age groups.

Multicultural workplaces are critical to long-term success in the 2020s and beyond. Key industries in Texas, such as Oil & Gas, tech, and healthcare, are more fortuitous when there is strong diversity and inclusion in the workplace to best serve a wide variety of clients and users.

Is your organization measuring up? According to Pew Research, 56% of workers believe that increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) measures in the workplace is beneficial. Women and racial minorities, in particular, express strong interest in employers with clear DEI policies and resources. Employers looking to attract Gen Z talent should consider inclusive benefits and DEI programs as a worthwhile investment, as 68% of Gen Z and younger Millennial workers feel that more workplaces need to focus on DEI.

What Makes a Workplace Diverse?

Diversity isn’t just the optics of different races, genders, and religions. Diversity also encompasses differences in the following categories and more:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • National Origin
  • Family Status
  • Body Diversity

The “equity” aspect of DEI entails learning how people who are different from us navigate the same worlds, both in and out of the workspace.

Some of your day-to-day experiences may seem normal until an interaction with a co-worker, customer, or manager is drastically different due to unconscious biases. For example, women in the workplace are often expected to take on tasks like making coffee and planning birthday parties, even if these tasks are unrelated to their job descriptions.

While Texas is an at-will state, and job descriptions can be altered at any time, this is an example of unconscious bias and social expectations at work.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace involve having employees listen to their co-workers in underrepresented groups, receive training in unlearning biases, and determine how to create a more equal playing field. The inclusion aspect takes actionable measures to address the inequities that dominant groups don’t notice.

Traditional Employee Benefits Lack Inclusivity

Like other areas of life, employee benefit management can be influenced by biases. Multicultural workplaces require the same fundamental benefits that most employers provide, such as health insurance and a retirement plan. Employers with comprehensive benefits packages may also offer additional perks such as whole life insurance, disability insurance, paid parental leave, and family bereavement leave.

While these benefits are valuable and attractive, a majority of them are geared toward heterosexual married couples with children who all live in the same household.

Traditional employee benefits often do not take into consideration the needs of single individuals, LGBTQIA+ employees, those living in multigenerational households, or individuals with disabilities. Participation in benefit programs is driven by both needs and wants, as well as the ability to participate.

For example, employees who experience the loss of a life partner and need time off to grieve may not qualify for traditional bereavement leave policies if the deceased is not their spouse or immediate family. Similarly, employees without children may not be interested in life insurance but still want to establish a safety net.

Family status aside, benefits like paid holidays can be culturally insensitive if not well thought out. Employees who don’t observe a religious holiday may prefer to have paid time off if they have a religious observance that falls on a different date.

Cultural and language barriers, poor work-life balance, obligations at home, and physical and mental limitations can also prevent employees from participating in benefit programs, even if they’re totally free at the point of use.

Flexibility is Key to Building Diverse Teams

The key feature of inclusive employee benefits is that they need to be flexible and personalized, demonstrating trust in employees to choose what is best for their needs. Benefit programs also need to be sensitive to a wider range of needs.

Not all benefits are equitable, as some are simply designed to better serve some demographics over others. For example, health and wellness benefits tend to favor employees who don’t experience racial, weight, and gender bias and who have the free time to participate. Employees with health needs that their insurance and flex spending plans can’t meet also need to spend more of their disposable income on these expenses.

Offering more flexibility with spending accounts, paid time off, remote work, and prioritizing results over hours clocked attracts a wider range of employees from all kinds of demographics. Their perspectives and lived experiences will inform how products are built, and end users are served, creating a mutually beneficial relationship that leads to more long-term growth.

Flexibility is the cornerstone of inclusive employee benefits. They give employees more resources to improve their lives, regardless of their background, household composition, and personal lives. Contact Affiliated HR & Payroll Services today to learn how we can help you develop and manage inclusive benefit programs tailored to your diverse workforce in Texas.



CJ Maurer

CJ Maurer

Client Service Representative at Affiliated HR & Payroll Services