By Robby Peters

Gusto knows what it means to create a supportive work environment for their employees. Their commitment to inclusion shows in the programs they offer their teams and the solutions they bring in house. As a leader in cloud-based payroll, benefits, and human resource management solutions for businesses, Gusto, relies on their talent to support their high-growth and plans for the future.

With a focus on inclusion for all team members, Gusto was the first company in the state of California to take the important step of eliminating barriers to fertility coverage for LGBTQ+ employees.

The ripple effect of their continued work is ongoing. With companies operating in what The Wall Street Journal recently called “the tightest talent market in 20 years”, this innovative approach to supporting talent from a fast-growing and high-profile company like Gusto is worthy of taking note.

I had the chance to sit down with Maryanne Brown, Head of People Team, at Gusto about their bold steps forward for fertility benefits to learn more:

What drove the Gusto team to seek out a way to offer employees fertility benefits?

Katie Evans-Reber, a former member of our HR team, was inspired by her personal experiences to spearhead this effort. Since we were moving Gusto to level funding for our insurance, she was able to work with Cigna to introduce a more personalized kind of package that includes things like comprehensive fertility benefits.

Have you seen these benefits utilized at Gusto?

Yes, we have. When we first announced the new, more inclusive benefits during a company presentation, there were actually a few employees who cried tears of happiness and pride that we were extending this to everyone. Since then, we’ve gotten a lot of interest in our fertility benefits. For example, one engineer on our team published a blog post about her egg freezing experience. Also, because taking advantage of this benefit can get complicated and confusing, we decided to partner with Carrot. As a result, we are not only giving employees more financial support but also giving them a fertility home base with compassionate experts who are ready to answer any questions.

Are these benefits only available to women?

No, these benefits are available to any Gusto employee who chooses to use them. In 2016, according to our health insurance carrier Cigna, Gusto became the first company of our size nationwide to extend fertility benefits coverage to LGBT employees. All employees’ fertility treatments are covered, even if they don’t have a medical diagnosis for infertility. Intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, gamete intrafallopian transfer, zygote intrafallopian transfer, female ovum and male gamete retrieval procedures and short-term ovum and gamete storage are also covered.

Do you think that offering fertility benefits will lead to a more family-centric workplace environment?

Certainly. At Gusto, our mission is to create a world where work empowers a better life. When we give everyone the same access to fertility care, we’re giving people the chance to create an actual human life and start a family.

Because HR is a core part of our business, we’re always thinking of ways to make our benefits more inclusive. For example, we’re proud to also offer a fully-insured transgendered benefits package that includes gender reassignment coverage. Over time, we hope that equality in benefits becomes the new norm.

Has introducing Carrot benefited Gusto as a company? If so, in what ways?

At Gusto, inclusion is a foundational part of how we design programs and build benefits. We take a look at our benefits on a regular cadence to see what changes we can make to better support our people and the changing landscape of the work environment. With Carrot, we believe it sends an important signal throughout the company — even to those who may not be actively engaged in fertility — that Gusto offers a level playing field to all employees.

Do you think incorporating this as an offering helps with talent retention?

We don’t design programs or benefits with the end goal being talent retention. We hope that the programs and benefits we design will support our employees in the critical life moments when they need support. For some, that may be during a time when an employee makes the decision to freeze her eggs or when an employee and their partner having troubles with infertility decide they want to seek medical help to conceive. Partnering with Carrot is a way for us to help employees navigate through the potential stresses they may encounter while they tackle these big life moments.

What are some ways you think other companies can adapt to become more accommodating to families?

Here are some ideas from our experience:

  • Offer meaningful paid parental leave policies
  • Gusto offers 16 paid weeks for primary caregivers and 8 paid weeks for secondary caregivers.
  • Give parents more than just paid leave
  • In addition to paid leave, Gusto also offers a “Little Bundle of Joy” package for new parents, which includes a care package, meal deliveries, house cleaning, and even sleep coaching.
  • Leaders at the company should act as role models by taking leave
  • Our co-founder and Chief Product Officer Tomer London set an example by publicly sharing why he took his full paternity leave and what he learned after returning.
  • Offer flexible hours or schedules
  • Sherry Chai, an engineer on our team, recently shared with the Society of Women Engineers that she appreciates our flexible work arrangements, which made it easier to adjust her schedule when she became a first-time mom. Whatever policies you implement should be accessible to all types of employees — not just the new parents. Remember that non-parents can enjoy the benefits of things like flexible PTO and consistent schedules just as much as parents.
  • Upgrade your lactation or mother’s room
  • The law states that companies must have a private, locked room available for pumping along with a fridge to store breastmilk. And no, bathrooms won’t work!
  • Make benefits inclusive and ensure everyone is informed
  • For instance, we made sure that our employees knew that making our fertility benefits more inclusive wasn’t only for people who are gay. For example, if a single woman wanted to have a baby, she’d typically have to jump through the same hoops while trying to conceive since she’s not married. Therefore, we clearly outlined all of the situations where our employee benefits could apply.

Robby Peters is Co-Founder of PeopleTech Partners


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