Lack of inclusion of women in workplace health and wellbeing support


This year’s International Women’s Day theme is to ‘inspire inclusion’. Workplace health care cover is one area where this really is badly needed. We share expert views from two workplace health protection providers; Towergate Health & Protection and RedArc, who discuss the importance of inclusion of women in workplace health and wellbeing support.

Employers need to provide female employees with equal, adequate, and appropriate support

Three of Towergate Health & Protection’s inspirational women discuss what changes are needed to address the lack of inclusion of women in workplace health and wellbeing support.

Research shows that companies that have more than 30% female executives are more likely to outperform companies that do not. Therefore, it makes good business sense to support women in the workplace, and this includes giving them the health and wellbeing support appropriate to them:

Zanele Sibanda, head of business development at Towergate Health & Protection: “Female-led businesses contribute a total of £221bn GVA to the UK economy. Despite this, women still make up a very small percentage of insured key individuals for business continuity planning. There is a lot of work to be done to support female business owners and women in key positions.

“One in three small business owners report that they are working longer than 46 hours a week. The unwelcome by-product of this is likely to be poor physical and mental health. Within the same group of survey respondents, 41% said that financial worries are having the single biggest impact on their mental health. And 81% of female business owners reported experiencing gender bias in the workplace.

The combination of these factors is a melting pot of scenarios that could lead to a business failing because of the unexpected absence of a key individual. So it is vital to raise awareness in the female business community of the financial planning solutions available that will help ensure the issues highlighted here don’t have a permanent and negative impact on their businesses.”

A concern of lack of inclusion of women in workplace health and wellbeing support

Sarah Dennis, head of international says: “I have been lucky to have had so much support from my employer as I’ve developed in my career. Now, in my leadership role, I want to support women who may not have had the same backing. When I started my career there were very few women taking the lead in business, more often they were in administration or secretarial roles. Women were expected to take the lead in childcare so businesses were not keen to invest time and money in short-lived careers.

The landscape of employment has changes and women hold many more leadership roles now. They build their careers as well as having families, so it’s important that employers provide the necessary support to help women realise their potential. This includes providing access to health and wellbeing benefits that not only supports the health and wellbeing of women but also enables them to flourish.”

Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at Towergate Health & Protection, says: “We must make it easier for women to stay in work, and to return to work at all stages of their life. Otherwise too much talent is simply being lost. We need to help women thrive, as well as the businesses in which they work.

We have raised the profile of women in business and the scales are beginning to balance. But for businesses to really fly, it is important that employers look at the health and wellbeing of their employees and take gender-specific issues into consideration. There are plenty of options available, such as screening for breast and cervical cancer, and support for menstrual, fertility, and menopause issues.

Employers need to make women aware of the support available and appreciate the value it represents to the business, as well as to employees, and offer it to their staff.”

Women are twice as likely to access support via their partner’s insurance as vice versa

Analysis of RedArc’s claims data shows that women are twice as likely to access health and wellbeing support as a benefit of their partner’s insurance claim than vice versa. This reflects the fact that not as many women have insurance. They also don’t have direct access to the added-value support that comes with it, meaning they miss out on all of that, be it emotional or practical.

Many insurers allow partners and families to access the third-party support embedded within a policy. As fewer women are insured, the analysis from RedArc indicates they are using their partner’s policy to access support as they do not have direct access to it via their own policy.

Where is women’s workplace health and wellbeing support?

Ahead of International Women’s Day, Christine Husbands, commercial director, RedArc said: “It’s archaic to think of a woman’s reliance on her partner’s insurance policy for her own wellbeing, but our data does show there is a very real need.

“We would encourage our industry and employers to inspire inclusivity – the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day – and do all that they can to ensure women have the appropriate insurance in place. We’d like to see women make use of all available support – be that via their own or their partner’s policy. We know that when women have access to support they make good use of it, so it is budget very well spent.”

We cover International Women’s Day throughout the month of March with our series of articles about inspirational women and what Inspire Inclusion means to them.