Helping Minorities Get Better Use Of Their Employee Benefits

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com

One critical diversity, equity and inclusion discussion which may not get much visibility in the workplace is around assuring that employee benefit programs are equally accessible and valuable to the full range of diverse employees.

With the upcoming millennial workforce being 16% more diverse than the baby boomers’ generation, diversity, equity and inclusion is an important aspect that companies and businesses must embrace and continue to strive for. As the push for more diverse inclusive workplaces continues, the way that an HR department helps under-represented minorities access their employee benefits plays an important role. Consider a few of these tips on how to aid in communication with and support of minority employees.

Encourage open communication. An important aspect of helping minority employees better navigate and understand their employee benefits is to make sure that they feel supported by their human resources department, as well as their company as a whole. Making it known that open communication and discussions are not just tolerated but actually welcomed and encouraged can help diverse employees feel more comfortable opening up and asking any questions they may have about their benefits package.

While it is important to have open communication within a team environment, it can also be beneficial to adopt some of those same philosophies for an HR department. When a company has minority employees, they should actively accept feedback, stay open to suggestions, and pay attention to the issues that affect their minority employees directly.


Offer inclusive benefits. While every benefits package does not always look the same, if a company is looking to directly support their minority employees, they must consider inclusive employee benefits and perks that support diversity—as this shows a commitment to creating an all-embracing workplace where individuals’ beliefs, cultures, and orientations are supported.

From offering holiday time to various cultural or religious backgrounds or offering professional development courses and instruction for employees whose backgrounds may not have offered them the same opportunities, there are many ways that companies can begin to create a more welcoming culture.

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Discuss where they can save money.   Typically, employee benefits offer affordable, convenient options for employees to receive the types of coverage needed to secure their families and protect their financial well-being. As an HR department, taking this a step further can mean also discussing the areas where employees can save money by forgoing certain benefits and acquiring them on their own.

Life insurance coverage is an example of one of these benefits. Employee-provided life insurance is a great option for individuals that need basic coverage for their salary as an income replacement. But often, this plan isn’t enough coverage for individuals and they can actually find a more affordable and comprehensive plan through a life insurance broker. Because life insurance rates are dependent on many factors including age, health, hobbies, and more, some employees may qualify for lower rates than the set employer-provided plan. Taking time to have these discussions with employees shows that the company cares about more than just the work they do in the office.

Obtain the proper information. To better support minority employees with their benefits, it is helpful to be prepared with the correct information, research, or statistics. By prepping HR with adequate background knowledge, they are given the opportunity to provide better suggestions on how to navigate their benefits. Similarly, learning to adopt different perspectives is a form of having more information.

For some companies, this might include diversity training programs. These various types of training can be especially useful for human resources employees with hiring and promotion processes while also aiding them with the right language and best practices to support all the diverse populations within their organization.

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As employee benefits are a great incentive for all employees, specifically aiding HR departments with the correct tools to help minority employees get the best use of them is a great way to start creating a more welcoming workspace for all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Black Lives Matter and an American Coinage Travesty – blog 2: A KKK-sponsored coin

A close up of the bas-relief on Stone Mountain, and view from a distance.

As a diversity consultant and numismatist (a collector of money,) I am now finding some interesting connections between our nation’s money and our diversity as a nation. In my last blog, “Black Lives Matter and the $20 Bill – an Awful American Travesty,” (do use the link and read it), I recounted the very sad story of how the approved plans to place African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman on our $20 bill got derailed.

In this blog, I am going to share the history of one of our commemorative half dollars that has a disturbing connection to the horrific racist group the Ku Klux Klan, abbreviated the KKK. I was recently catching up on some of my back magazine reading and read this story in one of my 2018 Numismatist Magazines. If it were not for my interest in coin collecting and reading this story, I would have never known about the sordid history of Stone Mountain and it’s world record size bas-relief carving.

When the World’s fair was held in St. Louis in 1892 on the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival into America, the US produced its first two commemorative coins; the Columbus half dollar and the Isabella quarter. Since that time, the US has issued numerous commemorative coins to celebrate historic milestones, or as fundraisers for projects. Most often, these commemorative coins are sold to the public for a premium over their face value.

This blog summarizes the history of the 1925 Stone Mountain half dollar, and you can read the complete detailed story using this link to Coinweek’s online article “The Birth of the Klan Half Dollar.”

The beginnings:  The story starts in 1909 when the Atlanta, Georgia chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) floated the idea of carving into nearby Stone Mountain a relief to honor fallen Confederate soldiers. Coincidentally, the KKK found its second birth and resurgence when a group of 34 white men met atop Stone Mountain on Thanksgiving Day 1915, with many of the men wearing the white bed sheets and pointed caps most associated with the klan.

The plans turn into action: One of the men present, Sam Venable, was the owner of Stone Mountain and later deeded the north face to the UDC to actually execute the carving project. The UDC hired renowned sculptor Gutzon Borglum (who also designed the carvings on Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota) to design a Confederate battle scene for the face of the mountain. Some KKK-ers actually wanted members of the klan in their robes to be carved into the scene, but Borglum prevailed with a plan that featured Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. After meeting some of these southern leaders, sculptor Borglum himself joined the KKK and authored a horribly racist and anti-Semitic essay.

1.3 million of these “Stone Mountain” half dollars were minted

Plans stalled during World War I, and restarted after 1920. The work was expensive, so in 1923 project leaders started to advocate for a creation of a commemorative coin that would be sold for a premium to raise funds for the project. Borglum stopped his work on the mountain carving to work on designing the coin. Congress passed the legislation, the billed was signed by President Coolidge, and 1.3 million coins were minted in 1925.

The Completion: Various conflicts resulted in the firing of Borglum, and the carving work on Stone Mountain stopped for several decades, not to be completed until 1965. Over the past decade, the carving has been a great source of conflict, and will likely be even more so in today’s debate about memorials that arose from the motivation to promote white supremacy.

Three quick interesting closing points:

1) Isn’t it a disgrace that our US Treasury Department could produce a commemorative coin to aid a project of the Ku Klux Klan, yet recently scuttled plans to honor Harriet Tubman on our $20 bill?

2) Recently Richard Rose, President of the NAACP, called Stone Mountain “the largest shrine to white supremacy in the history of the world.”

3) One line from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s famed “I have a dream speech” included, “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.”  (See page 6 of the speech)

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Blog author Stan Kimer is a diversity consultant and trainer who handles all areas of workplace diversity and with a deep expertise in LGBT diversity strategy and training, Unconscious Bias and Employee Resource Groups. Please explore the rest of my website and never hesitate to contact me to discuss diversity training for your organization, or pass my name onto your HR department.  [email protected]