Medtronic leadership in pandemic proves the power of inclusion

Medtronic leadership in pandemic proves the power of inclusion

 May 05, 2020

What's Medtronic's 'secret sauce' for maintaining a culture of innovation and inclusion during a pandemic? Read how their approach to advancing inclusion, diversity and equity has prepared the company to lead today - and into the future.

Medtronic's innovative culture, fostered through its commitment to diversity and inclusion, has seen the company successfully responded to the Covid-19 pandemic via increased ventilator production and distribution to high risk populations globally. The company has even shared their portable ventilator design with other manufacturers - according to an article by PwC in association with CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion published in HuffPost.

At Medtronic, creating this culture of innovation and inclusion starts at the top.

Better decisions require diverse perspectives

Former Chaiman and CEO Omar Ishrak has always believed in the value of diverse and inclusive workplace: “Better decisions are made when there are more perspectives in the room,” comments Omar. “In the end, the success of a business is based on judgment calls and decisions that are made throughout the organization every day, literally thousands of them. The collection of all of these judgment calls results in the performance of the business.”

Meanwhile, Vice President of Research and Development Carol Malnati (pictured above left, and below) consistently advocates for more women in the engineering industry. “There are lots of data and research reports that say that diverse teams are more creative; they innovate and they out-perform competitors,” she says. “Research shows that diversity increases innovation by nearly 20 percent. It strengthens our workplace culture, distinguishes us from competitors, and ultimately helps us meet global healthcare needs. And simply put, innovation is the lifeblood of Medtronic.”

Carol Medtronic

Medtronic Director Andrea Goldsmith believes that diversity can help tackle major engineering challenges thanks to the benefits of different perspectives. “It’s really about excellence,” adds Andrea. “It’s not about fairness. I truly believe, based on my experience, that having diverse perspectives makes a big difference in better engineering outcomes, in better designs and better formulation of problems. It means that we have to make a concerted effort to increase diversity of the profession and make sure that those diverse voices are included in order to get the benefits of these diverse perspectives in solving the grand challenges that engineering can help solve.”

Diversity and Inclusion programs and strategies to support employees

Medtronic's diversity and inclusion initiatives are wide-ranging, benefiting employees from different backgrounds.

The company has five Diversity Networks, over a dozen Employee Research Groups, a global Women's Network, and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) group, and Careers 2.0.

All of these long-established programs are integral in providing immediate support for employees affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Three reasons for Medtronic's diversity and inclusion success 

Three key reasons are cited as to why Medtronic has been so successful with its diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Firstly, its a leadership commitment, which Carol calls the "top-down bottom-up" approach. “We need our top leaders to help us handcraft our initiatives and then really leverage the bottom-up power of the engineering teams and the power of the passion of the individuals that want to participate in this,” says Carol.

Secondly, its Medtronic's strategy to integrate sustainable D&I practices across the entire company. “You need to listen to team members throughout the organization and then use that input to create mechanisms through which there’s true D&I engagement in your day-to-day work, in addition to specific forums and initiative projects,” says Omar. “If you remember the inclusion part of it, the rest of it will come.”

Finally, Medtronic also sets goals and measures progress, as well as sharing the results publicly.  “Defining metrics and collecting them is important,” Andrea adds. “What are the metrics that we want to measure with respect to diversity and inclusion? Some of them are quantitative metrics. It’s not just about the percentages of women or minorities that we have, but how we measure their success and retention in the organization. “It really starts with the CEO making a commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout the organization,” she continues. “Not just saying it’s important, but really coming up with actionable mechanisms to track progress, to hold people accountable, to infuse the entire organization with the sense that diversity and inclusion is critical to the success of the organization and to the leaders in the organization and to the groups in the organization.”

“You can really make a difference in people’s lives by being an engineer, by being at Medtronic,” affirms Andrea.

Work for a company committed to Diversity and Inclusion 

Medtronic has shown that, in times of crisis, its commitment to an inclusive and diverse workplace has allowed it to make a difference in people's lives.

If you want to make a positive impact in your career, search and apply for a job at Medtronic.


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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