Medical technology giant Medtronic has long worked to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion, says Sophia Khan, senior director of global inclusion and diversity at Medtronic. Last week, the extent of those efforts were further verified when the company founded in Fridley and domiciled in Dublin was placed third on Thomson Reuters’ 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Index, which ranks 100 of the most diverse and inclusive organizations from around the globe.
The ranking marks a 10-spot jump for Minneapolis-based Medtronic, from 13th place last year. Khan believes the boost is a testament to the company’s ongoing work.
“It really shows not only our commitment at all levels, starting with the tone at the top, with our CEO and executive committee, but all the way across the organization,” says Khan.
Founded in 2016, the Reuter’s Index was compiled from environmental, social and governance (ESG) data as compared this year between more than 7,000 companies. Companies are graded on 24 metrics within four main categories: Diversity, Inclusion, People Development and News Controversy. Metrics are weighted by peer-to-peer comparison and market importance.
Medtronic’s overall score was 79, surpassed only by Novartis (79.25) and Accenture (84.25).
The index was launched primarily as a guide for investors. In a statement, Elena Philipova, global head of ESG at Thomson Reuters’ Financial and Risk division, said that the investment industry is just beginning to recognize the benefits of creating a culture of diversity and inclusivity.
“Our Diversity and Inclusion index… highlights the companies who are leading the way in imbedding Diversity and Inclusion into their company strategy,” said Philipova. “We are working closely with various investment firms who are looking to develop investable products based on our D&I index.”
Medtronic was the sole Midwestern company to crack the top half of the Top 100 list, though Ireland-based, first-place Accenture does have a significant presence in Minnesota, with more than 1,600 employed in Minneapolis.
The only other companies with similar or more substantial U.S. ties that accompanied Medtronic and Accenture in the top 10 are San Francisco-based Gap Inc. and New York City-based Bristol-Myers Squibb. This year is Medtronic’s first time in the top 10, but it has appeared on the list since the index was conceived.
European companies such as Nestle and L’Oreal populated much of the Diversity and Inclusion Index.
The two other Minnesota companies to land on the list—Golden Valley-based food conglomerate General Mills and Maplewood-based manufacturing giant 3M—placed 58th and 68th, respectively. Thomson Reuters, which keeps its legal headquarters in Eagan, ranked 37th overall.
The entire 2018 Index can be reviewed here.
Even though the idea of “diversity and inclusion” by that name may be more modern, Medtronic’s Khan says it’s a concept that falls under “valuing personal worth of employees,” one of the six tenants on which Medtronic was founded in 1949.
“It’s really the heart of the company,” says Khan. “We know that [diversity and inclusion is] a vital part of our company, it’s important to our employees, it’s important to our customers, our patients, the marketplace suppliers. It’s an expectation.”
The corporate value of diversity has been proven in substantial research, notes Khan, and Medtronic believes wholeheartedly that diverse perspectives drives innovation.
What Medtronic’s emphasized more than ever lately, though, is accountability. Khan says the company is integrating diversity and inclusion in a holistic matter by making sure every leadership level and department sets an example.
This manifests in the form of engagement surveys to ensure all employees get their voices heard, transparency about efforts to make the company diverse and inclusive, and most plainly, in hiring practices.
To that end, Khan says the company has a 2020 goal of having manager and higher levels meet a certain standard from the global gender standpoint and U.S. ethnic diversity standpoint.
One formal initiative toward this goal is the recent creation of grassroots employer resource groups, and the development of diversity networks, which aid in the hiring of diverse individuals, and with identifying where the company can improve inclusivity. Khan notes they also offer a lot of mentoring circles, women-focused Lean In circles, and more.
“We do a lot of things a lot of other companies do, I just think there’s a very reenergized, intentional focus and transparency,” says Khan.
Khan notes that filling any gaps and proving consistency in the effective things Medtronic is already doing, could again improve the company’s standing on the Diversity and Inclusion Index next year.
“What’s important is… what can we learn?” says Khan. “Representation matters. You must pay attention to it, you must make progress. We have to have continued accelerated and intentional progress.”