Goldman Sachs, Same-Sex Benefits, China

Goldman Sachs, Same-Sex Benefits, China

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Goldman Sachs recognizes the importance of providing employees with robust and competitive benefit packages that meet the needs of a diverse workforce and changing business conditions. Benefits are an essential component of Goldman Sachs’ reward programs providing employees with assurance that they and their families are given the right levels of coverage at all times.

As part of the firm’s commitment to promote an inclusive workplace, Goldman Sachs provides benefits covering domestic partners (including same-sex partners) to employees in China and ensures that local insurance vendors understand these policies.

Structure/Setup
The process by which Goldman Sachs approaches benefits for domestic and same-sex partners is similar across regions. First, the firm consults with its in-house counsel to assess the legal landscape and ascertain the legality of domestic partner benefits.  Goldman Sachs then reaches out to insurance vendors and requests for a proposal. The request will include a list of questions, with some pertaining to domestic partnerships:

  1. Are you able to cover domestic partnerships?
  2. Are you satisfied with our definition of domestic partnership? If not, is there a definition that you would be more comfortable with?

The firm will consider an individual as a domestic partner based on a set of criteria, such as cohabitation for a length of time. Benefits that do not require insurance such as family-related leave policies could include domestic partners in their eligibility without significant effort.

Benefits and Activities
All Goldman Sachs employees in China enjoy access to core benefits such as healthcare, insurance, retirement, wellness programs and family-related leaves. Benefits that apply to a legal spouse are generally extended to domestic partners nominated by the employees – either same or opposite sex. These include healthcare coverage for their domestic partner as well as taking parental and emergency leaves involving their partner’s family. Wellness programs such as counselling and medical advisory services are also available to eligible family members and domestic partners of employees.

The firm proactively communicates these benefits to employees through a wide range of channels. Both a hotline and website have been set up so that employees can learn more about the benefits available. Regular emails are sent to employees about their benefits and how to take advantage of them. Further, every year during Goldman Sachs’ Pride Month (November), employees are reminded specifically about domestic partner benefits.

Challenges and Lessons Learned
Goldman Sachs ensures its benefits are equitable for all employees, including LGBT employees in China, and has actively communicated these benefits. However more work can be done to ensure that LGBT employees feel comfortable coming forward and taking advantage of these benefits. Even though the firm goes to great lengths to ensure privacy, it is believed that many LGBT individuals in China still feel that taking advantage of these benefits would put them at risk of being ‘outed’ to their colleagues and managers.

Insurance providers can sometime pose a challenge in China. Domestic partner benefits are a new concept for many insurance providers in China, many of whom tend to be traditional in their offerings. Goldman Sachs has spent a significant amount of time educating and explaining domestic partner benefits to these groups. Goldman Sachs has found it helpful to make clear its definition of a domestic partnership so that vendors can assess the firm’s specific coverage needs.

Impact
Not only do domestic partner benefits provide essential coverage for the firm’s LGBT employees and their partners, it also sends a clear message to current and potential employees that Goldman Sachs is an inclusive employer which leads the way in many developing markets. A core belief at Goldman Sachs is that working towards a more diverse workplace will benefit the firm and help meet the needs of clients. To attract and retain talent, Goldman Sachs ensures that its rewards program meets the needs of a diverse workforce and changing business conditions.

Critical Success Factors

  1. Provide support, not just benefits – Goldman Sachs has an LGBT employee network in all of its offices in China and leaders regularly talk about the benefits of inclusion. This level of support is instrumental in nurturing an environment in which LGBT employees feel comfortable taking advantage of domestic-partner benefits. This is particularly important in Asia, were LGBT employees are much more reluctant to make use of benefits available to them.
  2. Educate local vendors – Companies are encouraged to engage in a dialogue with vendors in China to both educate and better understand challenges that might be stopping vendors from providing domestic partner benefits. A creative solution can often help solve any reservations that vendors might have.