Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 23, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Medtronic of Canada Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016):
- Medtronic maintains a diversity and inclusion coalition, which monitors the hiring and advancement of female and visible minority employees -- the organization also reviews its diversity and inclusion strategy on an annual basis
- In 2013, Medtronic launched a newcomer mentorship program to help employees who are new Canadians better understand the work culture at the company and in Canada -- Medtronic also partners with ACCES Employment and COSTI to recruit internationally educated professionals and recognizes foreign credentials
Medtronic looks at an applicant's 'total experience'
When Pamela Winsor started working in the health care business back in 1991, she was one of two female sales and marketing representatives in her native Newfoundland. She recalls that her attitude was pretty much "OK, boys, move over." And, they did.
Winsor, who began her working life as an emergency and intensive care nurse before moving into pharmaceuticals, is now Senior Director of Health Policy and Stakeholder Engagement at Medtronic Canada, a medical device company. She is part of a 13-person senior leadership team that is 54 per cent women.
During her time in the working world, Winsor has both seen and been part of major changes. By the time she was recruited to Medtronic in 2004, she was one of about half a dozen women executives. She credits company President Neil Fraser for welcoming and mentoring women.
"He was living diversity way back in 2004," she says. "He was a comfortable leader in his own skin."
Medtronic's women executives are a diverse group career-wise. The head of the diabetes business group used to be director of finance before she made a radical career switch enabled by the company she had worked at for decades. The other female leaders include a lawyer, a PhD, and an executive from Paris who came to Canada via China.
"We have diverse backgrounds and diverse personalities, which is cool because there's a real diversity of thought," says Winsor.
These leaders' skills and knowledge have been especially valued in recent years as Medtronic transforms itself from a medical device manufacturer and seller into a services and solutions company as well. It aims to provide ever better clinical outcomes and economic value in health care as it integrates its business with that of Covidien, which it acquired in 2014. The merger essentially doubled
Medtronic's presence in Canada.
When Yvonne Farquharson, Principal HR Business Partner, joined Medtronic Canada in 2012, she was asked to lead its diversity and inclusion coalition as part of a global mandate. Along with some 10 employees, she worked to execute and evolve the mission and vision for the Canadian organization.
The group did many of the things associated with diversity programs - like celebratory festivals and a highly successful multicultural fair - but there were also other events more directly tied to Medtronic's businesses. For example, a speaker series featured experts on diabetes in the South Asian community as well as ethnicity and peripheral arterial disease.
It has always been Medtronic's intent to tie its diversity and inclusion policies to its core strategy. In its mission and vision statement, it says it wants "to promote and leverage the talents of a diverse workforce to better serve the needs of our employees, customers and communities."
Farquharson remembers Fraser asking her how he could tell the program was working. "It was an excellent question," she says. "We didn't have metrics. It was more the feel-good factor, so we decided to start transitioning the coalition to become more of a strategic tool."
One of the most significant things they've done, she says, is implement a mentorship program for new employees who are also new to Canada. Farquharson, who immigrated to Canada from Jamaica, found it a challenging time. Like other highly qualified professionals she was often asked for "Canadian experience" which she didn't have. She worried about finding a job for which she wasn't being told she was overqualified.
"Medtronic looked at my total experience and not just what I had done in Canada," she says. "They look at the value you bring to the organization which is why we have such low attrition rates."
Along with developing metrics to measure the effects of its diversity and inclusion programs, other current priorities for the coalition are Medtronic's global mandate to have women candidates for all key jobs and an initiative to foster inclusion of LGBT colleagues.