EY’s Commitment to Supporting Employee Mental Health & Ensuring a Disability-Inclusive Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Expressing a Commitment
Professional services firm Ernst & Young LLP (EY) is taking a people-first approach to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, with an emphasis on supporting the safety and mental and physical health of EY people. According to EY Abilities Strategy Leader Lori Golden, the firm is focused on “keeping the EY family whole and productive” during this challenging time. In order to accomplish this, EY’s leadership, including Global Chairman and CEO Carmine Di Sibio and U.S. Chair and Managing Partner and Americas Managing Partner Kelly Grier, regularly communicates about the firm’s response efforts through interactive webcasts, videos, emails, and other firm communications. The example set by senior leadership has created the expectation that all managers and supervisors will do the same within their teams. This includes sharing information about benefits and resources available.
To support these efforts, EY developed a comprehensive COVID-19 web portal to centralize information for its people. The website is updated regularly with the latest news from internal and external sources and information and resources for EY people and their families. It includes EY materials, vendor information, articles, trainings, mobile applications, and contact information for referrals and consultation by phone, video, or online chat. There is also a virtual teaming section of the website where team leaders can share the ways they are supporting their staff members and exchange ideas for building morale, such as hosting virtual group activities.
A Focus on Mental Health
A cornerstone of EY’s COVID-19 response efforts is focused on supporting peoples’ mental health, and one major channel for this is the firm’s Employee Assistance and work/life Program, EY Assist. It is part of a suite of services and benefits offered under EY’s “Better You” initiative which provides assistance to support the health and wellbeing of the workforce. EY’s mental health services include:
- Four full-time, on-staff licensed counseling professionals
- Access to a 24-hour hotline to speak with and locate counselors
- Virtual and in-person counseling
- Five, no-cost counseling sessions, per life event per year
- Digital tools to promote sleep health and emotional resilience
EY also offers eight-week mindfulness courses, daily drop-in sessions, and trains EY mindfulness champions, as well as shares resources through an online global mindfulness network. In response to COVID-19, EY Assist and members of the Diversity & Inclusiveness and parent coaching teams offered online group counseling sessions on a drop-in basis, addressing topics like managing stress and navigating family dynamics. Participants can follow group sessions with on-the-spot, individual therapy.
To help meet the needs of caregivers, there are group counseling sessions specifically focused on their needs, as well as enhanced back-up care for children, adults, and family members with disabilities. The firm expanded annual subsidized back-up care days from 12 to 24 this year in response to COVID-19. In addition to offering flexible working arrangements to those who need them, the firm established the 2020 Summer Leave Program, which gave individuals the option to take a two- or three-month partially paid leave of absence.
Additional resources available to EY families include:
- Access to child/adult and senior care research and referral specialists
- Access to self-directed search engine to locate help for caregivers and household chores
Through its We Care mental health and substance use awareness campaign, EY also empowers its people to support one another. The campaign provides educational materials such as information on the common signs that a person may be experiencing mental health or substance use issues and resources on how to seek help.
Ensuring a Disability-Inclusive Response
As inclusion of people with disabilities is a core value of EY, many of the firm’s COVID-19 response efforts are focused on furthering this. For example, EY leadership views the current focus on virtual communication as an opportunity to be as inclusive as possible. As such, it has taken steps to enhance accessibility in all materials, resources, and platforms, and promotes virtual meeting protocols that make it easier for everyone to participate.
As part of this effort, the firm’s accessibility team is reviewing its online recruitment and hiring processes, including the platforms used for virtual interviews, to identify any accessibility issues and correct them as quickly as possible. EY is also re-assessing the information it provides for job candidates with disabilities to ensure that they have all of the information needed to apply, such as how to request accommodations for interviews.
In addition, EY’s disability-focused Employee Resource Group, AccessAbilities, met to discuss the firm’s COVID-19 response and resources available to support colleagues with disabilities. Group members explored ways to address requests for equipment, assistive technology, and other accommodations when working virtually.
EY is also continuing its disability-focused hiring initiatives, including participating in disability-focused job fairs, providing resume review sessions and virtual interview preparation workshops for students with disabilities, and recruiting interns for next summer. In addition, EY is continuing to expand its Neurodiversity Centers of Excellence.
To learn more about EY’s COVID-19 response efforts, visit https://www.ey.com/en_gl/covid-19.