The vast majority (91 per cent) of plan sponsors believe they promote and support a diverse and inclusive workplace, with 44 per cent strongly agreeing with this statement, according to the 2022 Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey.

The results were consistent among employers in both the public (89 per cent) and private (92 per cent) sectors, as well as those with unionized and non-unionized (91 per cent for both) workforces.

Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of plan sponsors said they have a documented strategy for diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Employers with 500 or more employees (88 per cent) were much more likely than employers with fewer than 50 employees (45 per cent) to have a documented strategy, as were those in the public sector (81 per cent compared to 68 per cent in the private sector) and with unionized workforces (88 per cent compared to 64 per cent of employers with a non-unionized workforce).

Read: Sounding Board: How DEI enhances workplace safety, employee attraction, retention

Meanwhile, about a quarter (27 per cent) of plan members said they’ve experienced discrimination in the workplace, a percentage that increases to 35 per cent among those who identified as Black, Indigenous or a person of colour and decreases to 22 per cent among Caucasian respondents. Members who’ve been discriminated against were twice as likely to experience high or extremely high levels of stress (43 per cent) compared to those who haven’t been discriminated against (21 per cent).

“The genie’s out of the bottle, particularly in the health-care sector,” said Neil Prashad, president and chief executive officer of the Origin Group of Companies and an advisory board member, in the report. “We are in a post-pandemic, post-George Floyd era and many people have found their voice. Frontline care workers and marginalized populations are more opinionated about how they’re treated, whether within the health-care system or the work environment.”

Read: 60% of Indigenous workers feel psychologically unsafe on the job: survey

When it comes to workplace discrimination, chronic diseases that are apparent or may result in physical disability also appeared to be a factor. Indeed, 42 per cent of plan members with asthma/lung disease, 41 per cent with obesity and 38 per cent with chronic pain said they’ve experienced discrimination in the workplace.

Additionally, 21 per cent of plan members said they don’t feel comfortable enough in their organization to be their authentic self. While more than half (55 per cent) of respondents who expressed they can’t be their authentic selves in the workplace were satisfied with their job, fewer than half (45 per cent) felt their health benefits plans suit their needs extremely or very well and more than a third (36 per cent) described their mental health as poor.

By comparison, 91 per cent of plan member respondents who felt they could be their authentic selves said they’re satisfied with their job, while more than two-thirds (67 per cent) felt their health benefits plans meet their needs extremely or very well and just 17 per cent described their mental health as poor.

Read: Webinar coverage: How are employers incorporating DEI into their benefits plans, HR policies?