After a successful 20+ year career as a human resources and organization development practitioner, I made an intentional and conscious career pivot in the summer of 2019 and joined the global inclusion, diversity, and equity (GIDE) team at Medtronic. I made this pivot for two reasons:
Desire to make a greater impact– After working in a corporate setting in what ultimately is a people business for so many years, I knew I wanted to expand my impact. This is driven by my faith and desire to help people reach their full potential, especially marginalized and underrepresented groups. I had witnessed firsthand the power of our technologies to improve lives and wanted to contribute on a larger scale in making a difference for people in a different way – that is advancing equity in the workplace.
Belief in the authenticity of the company I work for– I believed impact was possible in this new role because of the rich history and focus on ID&E that I’d seen at my employer, Medtronic. Examples at Medtronic included: the first employee resource group (ERG) created in 1984; 5-year representation goals set (40% women and 20% ethnically diverse in leadership roles by 2020), published and then reset after achieved; and the fact that progress and opportunities were discussed and evaluated with the CEO, CHRO, business and HR leaders, and representatives from employee resources groups during quarterly diversity reviews.
To help prepare for my career pivot, I co-led an enterprise initiative that evaluated how we shared diversity data with stakeholders. Through that special assignment, the experience leading ID&E within global business units and now through my role leading inclusion and diversity programs across the company, I’d like to share some of my lessons learned and tips for upcoming and future ID&E executives:
Strategy is where it all starts: Establish a strategy that is informed and commensurate with where your company is relative to ID&E, leadership commitment, interest, and investments. Each company is on their own journey. While it may be tempting to follow and “shamelessly borrow” from other corporations or industry leaders, a successful inclusion, diversity, and equity strategy will be informed by a combination of leading industry practices, data-informed solutions, your own organization’s readiness and the C-suite’s vocal and visible commitment, accountability, and focus.
Be a student of your craft: Be intentional about learning not only about theory, leading practices, and solutions, but also failures and challenges that will help shape your strategy, perspective, and counsel. If ID&E progress were easy or linear, then we wouldn’t still be talking about it. Learn from others and implement what is best for your company.
Manage through change and over communicate: ID& E work is centered in organization behavior and change management—influencing behaviors while addressing and changing systems are not for the faint hearted or thin-skinned. It is also a journey, there are no overnight successes or accidental progress. Communication is imperative. Do not underestimate the need to overcommunicate your strategy, progress, and the “why” to all stakeholders. Change management and communication skills are invaluable for long-term and sustaining impact. Progress over perfection wins every time.
Collaborate: Industry partners, vendors, consultants, trainers, and peer networking groups are critical to your success in this space. Cultivate, value and sustain these relationships.
I could not be more proud of the progress we’ve made at Medtronic…we’ve implemented a leader-led model, tied executive compensation to ID&E progress, and built partnerships focused on breaking down systemic barriers to equity. This work is not only fulfilling, but impactful because it accelerates our innovation, enhances the well-being of our employees, and helps bring our life-saving technologies to more patients in more places around the world. For more information on Medtronic’s ID&E efforts, please visit our annual ID&E report on Medtronic.com.