BP Oil Adds Gender Reassignment Surgery to Employee Package

BP Texas City Refinery
AP PHOTO/DAVID J. PHILLIP

One British oil titan with its North American headquarters based in Houston just added gender reassignment surgery to its benefits package to make themselves more attractive to recruiting and hanging onto top-quality 21st Century employees.

BP, originally known as British Petroleum, now offers gender reassignment surgery for transitioning employees as one of its featured perks in the U.S., according to the Houston Chronicle. It is part of a new benefits package that also includes paternal leave following the adoption of a child and special therapy for autistic children.

Karl Dalal, BP America’s director of health and protection benefits told the Houston newspaper: “We have a very broad population with lots of needs.”

He said these additions came “organically” and that employees were asking for these specific benefits. He noted that company executives saw a changing workforce in-house, which he mainly described as younger, more diverse, and with different needs than previous generations of workers.

Dalal said the company’s LGBT employees suggested that BP expand its medical coverage to include gender reassignment surgery. The BP benefits handbook lists transgender reassignment surgery as eligible “when deemed medically necessary and subject to satisfying specific criteria established by the claims administrator depending on the type of reassignment.” The coverage item does request employees contact their claims administrator to obtain further details on their particular type of reassignment surgery, medical necessity, and coverage criteria.

BP also upped its maternity leave time from six to 10 weeks and fathers, who previously got no time off following the birth of a child, now get two weeks, according to the report. Additionally, following an adoption or surrogacy birth, either parent may go on leave for four weeks. BP also added specialized autism therapy for Applied Behavior Analysis, the leading therapy for autism said Dalal, who noted most companies consider it child care and do not help to pay for it.

Dalal called these new employee benefits offerings expensive but said the alternative was to lose talented employees. He indicated too many already left to go to the tech or financial sectors. The company also offers a health center, child care service, and two fitness centers on its Houston Energy Corridor campus, according to the Chronicle.

BP houses its massive U.S. headquarters in Texas. Houston is home to more than 4,500 of their employees, the company’s largest number of staff concentrated in one city anywhere in the world, according to the company. BP says it employs 22,300 Texans around the state. It is one of the largest employers of oil and energy workers in Texas.

Managing director of international executive search firm Korn Ferry’s Houston office Chad Hesters told the Houston newspaper this type of inclusive employee benefits package is part of a “cultural revolution” and has a lot to do with “the global nature of the workforce.”

He stated: “In Western Europe, a lot of these benefits already exist.”

Last year, the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, which focuses on LGBT issues, estimated roughly 0.6 percent of adults in the U.S., or 1.4 million people, identify as transgender. In January, they approximated around 0.7 percent of youth 13 to 17 years old, or 150,000 teenagers, identified as transgender in the United States.

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