Women's rights movements have made great progress toward gender equality in the workplace. Prior to 1963, it was legal for businesses to pay women performing similar work as men a lower wage. It was also uncommon to find women in workplace positions of authority. It was not until the following year in 1964 that the Civil Rights Act was established granting equal rights for women in all areas of employment and making workplace discrimination based on gender illegal. 

In 2018, women made up nearly half the workforce at 46.9%. With growth in female representation across all job industries, even those industries like STEM and tech that have been traditionally male-dominated, and high competition for top female talent, it has become crucial for employers to find healthcare plans that cover a full range of needs for female employees. While progress has been made, women are still struggling to receive easily accessible and necessary health benefits from their places of work. 

Offering health benefits and services that support women can improve overall health and productivity in your workplace. Here's what you can do to support your female employees' health and empower them to succeed at work and at home. 

  1. Include maternity benefits: Because not all insurance plans offer the same level of maternity coverage, it's important that employers have a partner that can help women throughout every step of pregnancy and childbirth. 

  2. Implement paid maternity leave: More employers are offering paid paternal leave to mothers and fathers, and in addition to the Family and Medical Leave Act, some states have applied laws allowing parents to take a certain number of weeks off with pay to care for a new baby. Paid leave policies have shown improvement in employee retention, productivity and morale. 

  3. Offer telecommuting options: More than 70% of American mothers with children under 18 work full-time. A flexible work culture gives women the ability to experience careers in a fast-paced industry without having to juggle commutes, children and family demands. Additionally, one study found that women with flexible work options were more ambitious in their career goals. Telecommuting benefits not only help women progress professionally and maintain a work life balance, but also benefit companies because employers are able to retain female talent and have more women in decision-making roles. 

  4. Cover and promote mental health services: Mental health disorders are among one of the most common issues affecting today's workforce, leading to low productivity, absenteeism and an increase in behavioral health care costs for employers, and nearly one third of women say that mental health is affecting their work performance. Ensure your company's insurance plan covers mental health care and substance use services. For women, this can include finding ways to reduce the stress of caregiving or supporting a female employee who may be experiencing postpartum depression. Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help employers find the best ways to address issues like behavioral health care for women and offers a variety of customizable services including counseling, crisis support, and referral services along with a wide range of helpful tools and resources that help employees to resolve their concerns, focus on what matters and feel appreciated. 

  5. Support wellness and preventive care: It's important that employers encourage their employees to take advantage of free wellness visits and preventive screenings and allow employees to take time from work to visit the doctor and manage chronic conditions. Additionally, it's important employers consider plans that cover women's contraception. Birth control is commonly used to manage health conditions and more than 1.5 million women rely on contraceptive pills for reasons other than preventing pregnancy.

First Choice Health takes women's health seriously and is working diligently to connect women to providers that do as well, working with more than 110,000 providers, 2,400 facilities and 364 hospitals in our PPO network. First Choice Health recognizes a growing provider access problem and works to meet the needs of its clients wherever and whenever they need assistance. 

Posted In:  Health and Wellness

About Wendy Walker

Wendy serves as the FCH Health Plan Administration Director. She began her career over 15 years ago at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and went on to senior account management positions with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and Regence Blue Shield. Prior to joining First Choice Health in 2014, Wendy worked with a variety of employers on their self-funded medical plans including The Boeing Company, King County, the State of Washington, and Catholic Cemeteries of Chicago.