Manulife Financial Corp. is supporting its LGBTQ2S+ employees during Pride Month and beyond with speaker sessions and ongoing enhancements to its benefits plan.

Throughout June, the insurer held numerous webinars, speaker series and learning sessions that continue to educate employees and support the company’s LGBTQ2S+ workers, said Michelle Taylor-Jones, the company’s global chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, in an email to Benefits Canada. The sessions followed Manulife’s annual Mental Health Month initiatives in May, which included several discussions covering mental-health topics specifically geared to the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Read: Pride Month: How employers can create a more inclusive work culture

“We want to sustain and nurture an inclusive environment where diversity of thought thrives, where all employees feel valued and respected, [able to bring] their authentic selves to work and contribute to our success.”

The support for LGBTQ2S+ employees’ mental health connects directly with the company’s overall DEI strategy in a variety of ways, added Taylor-Jones. “Manulife’s purpose as a company is to make decisions easier and lives better. Foundational to that goal is having everyone feel respected, connected and treated with equity and dignity. We know it requires an ongoing commitment from everyone to continue to learn and we’ll continue to put an even greater focus on the importance of mental health to our overall well-being.”

In November 2020, Manulife introduced full gender affirmation coverage for both surgical and non-surgical treatments, as well as 12 weeks of paid parental and adoption leave and reimbursement of up to $20,000 per year for adoption and surrogacy support for all employees.

Read: Manulife enhances family benefits for Canadian employees

The organization’s employee resource groups have played a large role in shaping these programs, said Phil Witherington, the organization’s chief financial officer, also in an email. “These groups have the power to bring together employees across different backgrounds, regions and organizational hierarchies together on one platform. They provide insight on DEI issues that are top of mind for employees, identify opportunities where we can play a stronger role and hold us accountable to our DEI strategy and commitments.”