March 9, 2022

How Employers Can Better Support the Women and Families in Their Workforce

In honor of Women’s History Month, we wanted to take a moment to share an insightful Q&A session with Maven Clinic, one of our amazing Ecosystem partners who focuses on women’s and family health.

The purpose of this session was to shed more light on some women’s and family health issues, the mental health challenges associated with these issues, inclusivity concerns, and more.

These insights provide a clear and well-rounded perspective on topics that, until recently, have been largely ignored, while also providing tangible solutions for employers to deploy in order to better care for and support their women employees and their families.

What Women’s and Family Health Issues Do You Think are Most Overlooked? 

Fertility is one area that has historically been overlooked but has thankfully become an area of focus for employers, payers, and investors alike. 

Consider the stats: 

  • 15% of couples are unable to get pregnant naturally after a year of trying.
  • Perinatal mood disorders affect one in eight women around the world.
  • 33% of Americans have used fertility treatments or know someone who has. 
  • The demand for assisted reproductive technologies (ART) is steadily increasing at an estimated rate of 5 to 10% per year.
  • 63% of LGBTQIA+ people expect to use ART, adoption, or foster care to become parents.

Infertility remains a top health challenge many employees are going through, but solutions to address this have been largely financial, ignoring the real mental health challenges that come along with a fertility journey. Offering access to mental health providers, for example, can be a lifeline for employees navigating the depression, anxiety, and stress that often pervade the fertility process. 

Fertility solutions have also historically lagged behind in inclusivity. ​​While more than 60% of LGBTQIA+ people planning families expect to use ART, foster care, or adoption to become parents, most fertility benefits have left them fending for themselves.

Suppose your fertility benefits require a medical diagnosis of infertility to qualify to use them, for example. In that case, your aspiring LGBTQIA+ parents are excluded entirely, along with single people choosing to parent alone. As millennials and Gen Z employees and job seekers demand real action from employers to improve diversity and inclusion, HR benefits programs—such as inclusive fertility programs—present a significant opportunity to close gaps. 

Why Do You Believe Employers Should Pay More Attention to the Comprehensive Range of Women’s and Family Health Issues? 

Supporting women and families isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s also good business. 

Even before the pandemic, research shows that within one year of having a baby, 43% of women leave their careers. There is no question that we’re facing a crisis that threatens to roll back decades of progress for women in the workforce—but employers can act as a powerful counter by investing in benefits that attract and retain the best talent by supporting the whole health of an employee.

Previous research Maven has conducted shows that companies that invest in working families see 5.5X more revenue growth than peers thanks to greater innovation, higher talent retention, and increased productivity.

What’s more, Maven found that investing in benefits that focus on the entire path to parenthood and a holistic approach to employee wellbeing can prevent burned-out employees, especially parents, from quitting. And organizations that were perceived as offering “special and unique” benefits—from fertility programs, to subsidizing child care expenses, to providing surrogacy coverage—were 2X as likely to retain parents. 

What Are Some Things Employers Can Do to Better Support Women and Families?

We’ve seen many employers focus their efforts on expanding their paid leave offerings, which is a critical foundation, but we know it cannot stop there. Employers can better support women and families, especially in the family-building years, through benefits and policies that are comprehensive, inclusive, and continuous. 

  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive benefits cover the whole person—their physical, mental, and emotional health—and are core to supporting today’s talent.
  • Inclusive—Inclusive benefits and policies should cover all paths to parenthood and all types of families. That might mean offering an adoption or surrogacy benefit in addition to a benefit that covers IVF/IUI. It could also look like a paid leave policy that offers the same amount of leave to all new parents—birth parents, partners, adoptive parents, and so forth.
  • Continuous: Continuous benefits offer support throughout the journey, providing additional resources between appointments and beyond. For example, when a fertility journey is successful, it turns into a pregnancy journey. Then it becomes a parenting journey, and so on. 

All of this must start with listening. Each parent has their own unique situation, and it’s important for HR leaders—and particularly managers —to start by listening and giving employees space to ask for what they might need.

To better support all employees, not just women and families, companies should invest in training people managers to be empathetic leaders. How people managers treat and support pregnant people, new parents, or overwhelmed parents trying to juggle childcare or virtual schooling could make or break employee satisfaction, engagement, productivity, and, ultimately, retention.

How Is Maven Helping HR Leaders Do This?

The principles of comprehensiveness, inclusivity, and continuity outlined above are core to the Maven platform and to what we offer HR leaders and their teams. 

Maven helps families around the world thrive, but its value to HR teams spans beyond the care it provides. From consistent check-ins to sharing trends with HR teams on how their employees are interacting with each benefit, Maven has been a trusted and true partner to employers who are navigating the new world of work. 

Simply put, HR leaders have come to rely on Maven for a myriad of things—from helping them improve their workforce’s overall health outcomes, engagement, and productivity at work, to driving down overall healthcare costs. Maven supports employers by meeting their employees where they are and helping them get the care they need—and leveraging a connected navigation system like Castlight, which promotes the right programs to the right people at the right time, helps Maven do this.

How Do You See the Intersection of Employer Benefits and Women’s Health Evolving Over the Next Few Years? 

Health equity has become a table-stakes employer issue and will shape what the next generation of benefits looks like. 

For context, health equity is when every person can achieve their full health potential without being marginalized because of socially determined factors. A workplace that achieves health equity creates fair circumstances for every employee to be as healthy as possible. 

But today’s workforce is far from this reality, as many American employees continue to face a myriad of health inequities—affecting not only the employees but also the employer. In fact, poor health stemming from inequities cost employers $575 billion and 1.5 million days of lost productivity in 2019 in the United States. 

Over the next few years, there will be a tidal shift in employers bolstering their health equity efforts through trustworthy programs and holistic benefits that support employees’ diverse health needs.

Castlight Ecosystem partner Maven is the largest virtual clinic for women’s and family health, offering continuous, holistic care for fertility, pregnancy, and parenting. Maven’s award-winning digital programs are trusted by leading employers and health plans to reduce costs and drive better health outcomes for both parents and children. Founded in 2014 by CEO Kate Ryder, Maven has been recognized as Fast Company’s #1 Most Innovative Health Company and has supported more than 10 million women and families to date. Maven has raised more than $200 million in funding from leading investors including Sequoia, Oak HC/FT, Dragoneer Investment Group, and Lux Capital. To learn more about how Maven is reimagining life’s most critical healthcare moment, visit us at

Explore the Castlight Ecosystem.

Stay current with us