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Netflix, Facebook to pay for employees’ sex change procedures



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In a bid to provide an LGBT-inclusive workplace, would you consider paying for your staff’s sex change operations? That’s exactly what companies in the US are doing.

According to a report from Bloomberg, American firms are embarking on a trend to add gender change procedures as part of health insurance benefits for employees.

More than 415 of about 780 US firms surveyed for their friendliness toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers now cover sex change procedures, including hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgeries.

The figure is more than double of that in 2012, according to study by Human Rights Campaign (HGC), that looks into insurance issues for the LGBT community.

Netflix, Facebook and Tesla Motors are among 82 companies that will include such benefits this year. Goldman Sachs Group, well-known for its diversity and inclusion policies, has offered this since 2008.

To be counted as offering transgender coverage, a company has to offer at least US$75,000 worth of related benefits and meet other standards of care including providing counselling.

The U.S. government has, in fact, proposed new rules that would bar most insurance companies from categorically denying coverage for treatments that can help people transition to another gender.

ALSO READ: Hong Kong has Asia’s most diverse and inclusive workplaces

The rules wouldn’t force insurers to pay for all procedures, although they’d probably mean wider coverage of some treatments, such as hormone therapy.

The rules wouldn’t force insurers to pay for all procedures, although they’d probably mean wider coverage of some treatments, such as hormone therapy.

Whatever the regulations, peer pressure will probably drive more larger companies to sign on.

David Mayer a University of Michigan business professor who studies workplace diversity told Bloomberg that “other companies feel they should and need to offer similar benefits,” he said.

It is fairly inexpensive way to show they’re serious about a diverse workforce because so few people actually use them, only one in about 10,000 to 20,000 employees typically use gender transition coverage per year.

The University of California at Los Angeles which added related benefits in 2005 had fewer than a dozen people a year out of more than 100,000 using such benefits.

HRC gathers data from hundreds of companies every year related to benefits for LGBT employees. A perfect score in the so-called corporate equality index is 100 points.

Wal-Mart’s new gender-identity policies and same-sex partner benefits have helped the retailer’s score rise to 90 from 30 in the past two years on HRC’s index.

“The company reviews its insurance coverage each year. Our decisions are based on what we believe are best, and that will enable us to remain competitive and continue attracting and retaining great talent,” said spokesman Randy Hargrove.

Image: Shutterstock



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