For our colleagues at Mercer, we believe it is important for them to be able to bring their whole selves to work. As part of this we are trying to support our workforce with the understanding that nobody fits into just one category; our intersectionality and our experiences make our colleagues unique. Over the last 12-24 months we have made big changes to our underlying policies and processes to ensure they are inclusive to all staff, and in particular to our LGBT+ colleagues. Our UK HR leader works directly with the UK Mercer Pride network (the LGBT+ Business Resource Group) in order to embed LGBT+ inclusion into all our employee policies and to reflect the actual experiences of our LGBT+ colleagues. All policies are reviewed at least annually and we regularly seek guidance from our external partners, such as Stonewall. The examples below reflect our work to support LGBT+ colleagues with families.
All our policies are inclusive of all staff regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. We have particularly focused on our family friendly policies to ensure the language is gender neutral, defines all terms to be inclusive of same sex, Trans* and non-binary individuals, and to explicitly state that they relate to LGBT+ individuals. We specifically state within these policies:
“The policies apply to all eligible employees regardless of age, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sex, gender identity or gender expression, sexual orientation, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity or any other equality characteristic. We note that we may not cover your specific circumstances in the policies, for example LGBT+ employees and their families. Employees can contact the Mercer Pride LGBT+ employee network confidentially via [email protected].”
Mercer has a comprehensive Transitioning in the Workplace guide to support all colleagues through the transition process, regardless of their employment status. We recognise that every transgender person’s transition will be unique to that individual based on their personal, social, legal, and health needs. This includes people who identify with the other side of the binary (i.e. assigned male at birth and identifies as a female and vice versa) or people whose gender identity is non-binary (bi-gender, gender fluid, agender and others).
We are very proud that Mercer is leading the way to become one of the first companies in the UK to offer Trans* benefits for treatment of Gender Dysphoria, as part of its employee private medical scheme. Being a diverse and inclusive company is very important to us and we believe that offering Trans* healthcare benefits will greatly help our colleagues who need support in this area.
Gender Dysphoria, where a person experiences discomfort or distress due to a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity, is now included in all Mercer’s Private Medical Trusts, effective from 1 April 2018.
We know that people can thrive only when they can be their authentic self at work, and providing visible support to everyone is very important to us. Colleagues who do not feel supported or cannot be themselves at work are far more likely to suffer stress and anxiety, and in some cases this could lead to mental health issues.
There remain very few employers in the UK with inclusive Trans* benefits as part of their medical scheme and we are one of the leaders in this area.
We also have an Agile/Flexible Working policy which encourages and enables all staff to discuss and agree with their manager working arrangements which suit their role, their obligations to clients, the wider Mercer team and their own preferences. This is made available to all employees as we recognize that colleagues may wish to vary their working hours and/or working location; offering flexibility has a significant positive impact on employee engagement, particularly for working parents or those caring for family members or elderly relatives.
There are initiatives to implement Multi Faith and Wellbeing rooms, as well as Parenting Rooms, in all our UK offices, to provide our colleagues with safe spaces to rest, meditate or pray, and to express milk, respectively.
Our aim is to support our LGBT+ colleagues through their whole lifecycle at Mercer, from the moment they come into contact with our brand, to the day they retire or change firms. Within this time, some colleagues will have life changing events, such as starting a family, and we want to provide clear and supportive processes to ensure our colleagues feel supported.