Does your Total Rewards Program take into account the diversity of your employees? Conducting a review of your total rewards will ensure that your holiday schedule, compensation structure, and benefits doesn’t favour a specific group within your organization. It’s time to make equity, diversity and inclusion a key part of your total rewards strategy. 

    Many organizations have made equity, diversity, and inclusion an important focus in their overall business strategy and a top priority for their Talent Management Strategy. A foundational aspect of any organization’s employee value proposition – the employment deal that attracts and retains employees – is their total rewards program.


    Assessing your Total Rewards program with an EDI lens

    Incorporating your EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) strategy into a total rewards program can be an effective way to ensure that an organization’s commitment to EDI is reflected in all aspects of its employee experience, including compensation and benefits.

    Many traditional total rewards programs can unintentionally be inequitable in how they meet the needs of employees. Most legacy programs were developed when workforces were less diverse and wanted similar and mostly consistent things from their organization’s total rewards offerings.

    Even where diversity existed in the workforce, employers tended to focus on offering programs they felt met the needs of the majority of their employees resulting in the exclusion of the needs or interests of others.

    There are several tactics that an organization can take to incorporate their EDI strategy into their total rewards program.

    Looking at and assessing your offering with an EDI lens is a great first step. Conduct a review of your current total rewards program to identify where EDI could be incorporated. Do you have gaps in compensation or benefits that may disproportionately impact some employee groups? Could you incorporate more flexibility in benefits or leave programs to accommodate different cultural or personal needs?


    Holidays and Cultural Considerations

    An obvious example is statutory or company holidays that are based on religion. Most North American regions provide statutory holidays around Easter and Christmas. This is appreciated by those of the Christian faith. But what about employees who practice other religions and are required to work, or use their vacation time, during their most important religious days? Some organizations have moved to providing religious floater days that can be used for this purpose. An employee can work on a statutory holiday that is not important to them and replace that day off for one of their own religious holidays.

    An important follow-up to this is to make sure your organization is aware of these other important religious holidays. You would never schedule an all-staff meeting on Christmas day. Don’t provide employees with the chance to take their important days off but then schedule critical meetings on those same dates.


    Ensuring pay equity

    Another way to incorporate EDI is by ensuring your compensation structure is equitable and fair. Make sure you are basing job levels and salary structures on job responsibilities, skill and knowledge requirements and other objective job-related factors – not on the person in the job where gender, race, or ethnicity may create unintentional biases or inconsistencies. Pay Equity legislation has been put in place in many jurisdictions to support this goal.

    Using job evaluation or other objective approaches will help ensure equity and fairness is built into your compensation system by basing structural decisions on the job, not the person.


    Building flexibility into benefits

    As part of a total rewards review assess your benefits package to see that it will meet the needs of a diverse group of employees. One of the best ways to achieve this is to look for opportunities to build flexibility into your offerings. Allowing employees to utilize the benefits that matter most to them or meet their unique personal or cultural needs helps make sure benefits haven’t unintentionally been tailored to the needs of a specific group of employees.

    Simple changes like offering a healthcare spending account or putting more flexibility into your paramedical coverage can go a long way to meeting this objective. Offering flexible hours, hybrid or remote work options, or childcare benefits can make a significant difference for employees with different family requirements or cultural backgrounds.

    Creating EDI Committees or resource groups can help obtain feedback into how EDI can be incorporated into total rewards programs. We have conducted total rewards reviews for numerous organizations. When we have met with EDI committees, or conducted focus groups with employees from diverse backgrounds as part of our current state assessment they have provided us with numerous and rich insights into how their organization’s program could be adapted to better meet the needs of a diverse workforce.


    EDI in talent acquisition and retention

    Many organizations are imbedding their EDI strategies into their recruitment and retention practices, making sure they are inclusive and reflective of the organization’s commitment to EDI. They are actively seeking out and hiring diverse candidates. Progressive companies offer training opportunities on topics such as unconscious bias and cultural awareness to help employees better understand and appreciate different perspectives.

    As these tactics increase the level of diversity we see in organizations it becomes more important to make sure your employee value proposition includes total rewards programs that are designed to meet the varied and diverse needs of all your employees on an equitable basis.

    Incorporating EDI into a total rewards program requires a multi-pronged and intentional approach. By considering some of the tactics discussed above, organizations can create a total rewards program that reflects its EDI values and attracts and retains the diverse workforce needed to enable and support organizational success.


    About Mike:

    As President of Stratford People & Culture and a  seasoned human resources executive, Mike D’Amico has extensive experience deploying HR solutions in all business environments. Mike is an in-demand thought leader who has spoken at numerous international HR conferences. He holds a B.A. in law and sociology, an HR management certificate and achieved the SHRP certification – the highest HR certification level in Canada.

    Open magazine with text "This blog post was first published in the Ottawa Business Journal as part of their Expert Bloggers Series" Link to article.