The contents of this article were originally published in Manage HR Magazine (opens a new window).
In an interview with Lockton Companies, Stella Sung, SVP and Head of People Solutions - North Asia, delves into how they promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) within their organisation, as well as the best approaches for HR leaders to implement it in their own organisations and also how businesses can stay updated with these advancements.
How can organisations keep a lid on rising healthcare costs while also catering to their employees' emerging healthcare needs?
Employers can manage rising healthcare costs by staying up to date with industry trends and proactively addressing the emerging healthcare needs of their employees.
Current health and wellness trends in the industry that are impacting the cost of healthcare in the workplace include a growing focus on preventive care, mental health support, and chronic disease management. While these trends are important for improving employee health, they can also add to healthcare costs. One solution to keep healthcare costs low while still providing quality medical care to employees is offering comprehensive employee wellness programs. This includes encouraging healthy lifestyles, offering regular health screenings, and promoting wellness initiatives such as fitness challenges.
As an insurance consulting firm, we work closely with various insurance providers to introduce different cost containment program as an option for our clients. For example, promote the use of day surgery services unless it is medically necessary. It could help to save time and unnecessary medical expenses.
We work very hard to push for better price transparency whenever possible. Price transparency enables employees to make informed decisions about their healthcare. They can "shop around" for the best care, clearly determining how much they will pay out of pocket. Besides, we also work together with the insurance providers to promote the usage of panel medical network. Through direct settlement arrangements for all pre-authorised treatment, the member can be assured that the procedure is covered and can focus on getting better.
Technology innovations like telemedicine, wearables and data analytics can also improve healthcare outcomes while lowering costs. Telemedicine can provide convenient and cost-efficient access to healthcare professionals, wearable technology can track employee health data and help identify health concerns early on, and data analytics can help employers identify patterns and trends in healthcare utilization and costs. Based on the data and analytics result, we could support our client to make sound decision. Benchmarking could help the client to see whether they are over-insurance or under-insurance and adjust their coverage when applicable.
Some of the best practices for implementing healthcare benefits that cater to the unique and diverse healthcare needs of employees include regular communication on health and safety protocols, flexible sick leave policies, mental health support and counselling, and easily accessible telemedicine services.
Could you elaborate on some of the initiatives you have implemented in Lockton Companies that have elevated DE&I in the organisation?
We have implemented several initiatives to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) within our workplace.
One of our key initiatives is the implementation of DE&I training programs for all employees and leadership. The goal of these training programs is to educate our workforce on the value of DE&I while providing resources and support to help individuals connect across differences. We also conduct regular listening sessions with employees from different backgrounds to learn what we can do to improve our policies and practices.
Lockton sets cultural standard by supporting employee resource groups (ERGs) and networks, which provide an opportunity for employees to connect with one another based on shared identities or interests. ERGs allow employees to build a sense of community and provide a platform to raise concerns and bring forward ideas related to DE&I across the organisation.
We have also implemented initiatives and processes to ensure that our recruiting and hiring practices are more inclusive. The includes sourcing candidates from diverse backgrounds, standardising interview processes to avoid bias, and ensuring that job descriptions are inclusive and free from discriminatory language.
"The rapid pace of technological advancement has the potential to both promote and hinder progress in DE&I in businesses."
In addition to these initiatives, we have also signed the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge, joining more than 1,300 other companies across industries committed to improving workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Communication is also central to our DE&I strategy. Our DE&I Workplace Group is an open group where everyone can discuss freely, share DE&I news, resources, and best practices. Employees are encouraged to create groups for people from diverse backgrounds and shared interests to come together.
The impact of these initiatives to promote DE&I at Lockton Companies has been significant and have had a lasting impact on our workforce and our organisation as a whole. We have seen an increase in employee engagement, retention, and productivity, as well as a greater sense of community and inclusion across our organisation. Moreover, our efforts in improving DE&I have brought about new perspectives that have driven better innovation and problem-solving practices within our business.
What, in your opinion, are some of the best approaches that HR leaders can take to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion across their organisation?
The foundation of promoting DE&I in the workplace lies in the organisation's policies and procedures. HR leaders need to create effective policies that support DE&I, such as those that prohibit discrimination in hiring and promotions, establish clear channels for reporting and addressing harassment, and provide resources for training and education on DE&I issues. HR leaders should also regularly review their policies and update them as needed to ensure they are aligned with the organisation’s overall DE&I goals.
Unconscious biases can significantly impact hiring decision, resulting in a lack of diversity in the workplace. HR leaders should train hiring managers on how to conduct unbiased job interviews, including removing any identifying information, using structured interview techniques, and avoiding questions that may be perceived as discriminatory, avoiding gender pay gaps.
Culture Inclusion Workshops are an important way to promote DE7I in the workplace. These workshops can help employees identify and understand their unconscious biases, provide insights on the experiences of employees from different communities, and teach skills for engaging in difficult conversations about sensitive topics.
Besides, implement programs i.e. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), Mentorship and sponsorship programs, DE&I training, etc. across the organisation that promote DE&I is essential.
Some of the best practices include dedicating resources specifically to enhancing DE&I, such as setting up DE&I councils or hiring a DE&I specialist, regularly measure progress towards DE&I goals and encouraging diversity in the organisation's suppliers.
What role will be emerging technologies play in DE&I? How can businesses staying up to date with these advancements?
The rapid pace of technological advancement has the potential to both promote and hinder progress in DE&I in businesses. For example, AI can be used to overcome human biases by reducing subjectivity and increasing objectivity in decision-making processes such as hiring or performance evaluations. VR/AR can simulate immersive experiences that can be used in trainings, and wearables can help monitor employee wellbeing, such as tracking stress levels, sleep, and physical activity.
Although emerging technologies can help reduce bias and foster more objective decisions such as recruiting, performance evaluation and promotion, they can still be susceptible to programming biases.
DE&I has become a top priority among most of the business' organisational goals. As a responsible employer, employer need to do their due diligence when it comes to vendor partnerships, assessing the vendor's commitment to DE&I to demonstrate that your organisation takes those topics seriously.
Continual assessment and responsible development can help organisation harness the full potential of emerging technologies, leading to more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.
On an ending note, what is your advice for other senior leaders and budding entrepreneurs working in the DE&I sector?
Building a successful enterprise in the DE&I sector can be challenging, but it's also incredibly rewarding work.
Stay focused on impact; cultivate strong partnerships and relationships with the communities you serve.
Take time to celebrate successes and support one another during difficult times. Together, we can make a positive impact on the world.
For further information please visit Lockton’s People Solutions (opens a new window) page, or contact:
Vivi Kwok, Vice President, Wellbeing and Growth Marketing