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Part of building a high trust workplace culture is ensuring people feel comfortable being themselves at work – and employee resource groups are an important way employers can make this true.
For our June newsletter edition, we got the opportunity to speak to Medtronic’s Donia Abdel-Megeed about how the medical devices business is fostering inclusion and equity through ERGs – and how this flows through to higher engagement, and better innovation.
Medtronic is a global healthcare technology leader, with nearly 1000 people in Australia that innovates solutions that treat more than 70 health conditions, from Parkinson’s to diabetes.
Somewhat incredibly, the company’s products worldwide save two people’s lives every second.
“It’s incredible, it’s aspirational and very inspirational to know that even on your worst days, you’ve got this beautiful story to tell,” says Abdel-Megeed, APAC Principal Talent Management Specialist at Medtronic.
With purpose built in to its DNA – and a mission statement based on contribution to human welfare – Medtronic has all the cards to build a successful inclusive workplace culture.
But it also works hard at it.
And one of its core commitments is the longstanding use of Employee Resource Groups.
Employee Resource Groups are voluntary, employee-led groups whose aim is to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with the organisations they serve.
“Our employee resource groups have been around for some time and they are structured in a way that is very much grassroots,” says Abdel-Megeed.
“The employees own these initiatives, and they give employees a platform and a voice to explore that particular diversity space.”
Medtronic’s ERGs include networks for women, people with disability, a pride network, a philanthropic committee, a young professionals’ group and more.
The volunteer-based groups work on initiatives and passion projects, supported by executive sponsors on the leadership team.
“So, you have a real connection to the broader picture, the broader business picture and strategy picture from your executive sponsors,” says Abdel-Megeed.
“And I think that gives ERGs a real purpose that they’re contributing to something bigger. They are not just a space to meet and talk about things.”
One of the outcomes is improved engagement.
“Our employee engagement is higher than it’s ever been, and we see that directly related to the work that our ERGs are doing around inclusion, that sense of belonging, that sense that I can bring all of me to work every day.”
And engagement and inclusion drive bottom line results, particularly around innovation.
Abdel-Megeed says the ERGs are a place for employees to speak up, test new ideas and share ideas with each other.
“Our ERGs help form and shape the practices and policies so that they’re hitting the mark… from annual leave incentivisation to new offerings around mental health and well-being,” she says.
Part of the benefit is cross-collaboration – each ERG has a breadth of representation across geography and roles.
“We just see that there’s this new perspective of ‘take off that sales hat and see what it’s like for someone in finance or supply chain’, and vice versa.”
But part of it is management listening to the ERGs’ output.
“We have a global program where teams work on a key question every year related to culture – they get to ideate and work towards a solution that they present at the top leadership levels across the globe.”
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