As employers increasingly focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in their human resources policies and benefits programs, KPMG in Canada has introduced a daily living benefit that provides coverage for living aid equipment for employees.
Some examples of equipment that qualifies under the new benefit are chairlifts, grab bars and bathroom equipment such as bath chairs or rails.
The firm has a flexible benefits plan with three different levels — basic, comprehensive and premium — so annual maximums for all benefits, including the daily living benefit, vary based on which option an employee chooses.
“We really had an opportunity to — at the time we implemented — be first in this space, so being in a position to really try to lead the way and lead the market in adding programs and benefits that are valuable for a diverse population is something we take a lot of pride in,” says Emilie Inakazu, director of benefits, pension and well-being at KPMG in Canada.
Before the benefit was introduced in December 2021, the company joined one of its disability inclusion network’s regular meetings and asked direct questions about what this particular employee group valued and where there might be opportunities to do something different.
“This benefit was introduced in direct response to the insights shared in that conversation,” says Inakazu. “Once the benefit was rolled out, we did go back to the group to gauge [whether this was] what they were expecting and the feedback was very positive. They felt this was a really great step forward to evolving our program to ensure we continue to support this diverse population with varying benefits needs.”
Connection to overall DEI strategy
Providing these types of benefits as part of an overall DEI strategy can play a major part in developing an engaged and productive workforce, as well as contributing to the overall well-being of employees and their families, says Melanie Jeannotte, chief executive officer of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.’s benefits and HR consulting division in Canada.
“For [a DEI] strategy to drive organizational growth, it’s critical to demonstrate commitment to meaningful actions through benefits programs — adding a daily accessibility benefit can be one of those actions.”
Indeed, KPMG in Canada’s strong focus on people with disabilities is part of its larger DEI strategy, says Inakazu, noting the company is targeting about six per cent of its population to represent this particular diverse group in 2025. “It was very exciting to be able to lead the charge in this space and, hopefully, other employers follow suit to really make sure it’s a group that is well-supported across Canadian businesses.”
For other employers looking to add a similar benefit, it’s important to ask for feedback from the relevant employee group and have a solid relationship with their insurers, she adds. “I think it helps to have a strong partner. We’re lucky with our carrier that they were able to support the administration of this benefit within our medical plan.”
Every company’s population is different, so employers will have different priorities based on their employee demographic. “Anything you can do that’s supportive of a diverse portion of your employee population is always going to be a positive thing and it just reflects an authentic and genuine commitment to that particular group,” says Inakazu.
Going forward, KPMG in Canada recognizes its employee population will continue to evolve, so the benefits program needs to develop as well. The benefits team tries to continuously monitor and adjust its offerings based on those changes, she adds, noting it helps to have a strong partnership with the DEI team.
Sadie Janes is an associate editor at Benefits Canada.