C-Suite Perspectives from Fair360’s Top 50 Event 

Successfully implementing a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy means getting support from the highest levels of leadership. So, DEI leaders must learn to express the value of DEI efforts in driving business success to their C-suite colleagues. 

At Fair360’s 2024 Top 50 event, three C-level executives from Medtronic (No. 2 on the 2024 Top 50 list) discussed what drives them to pursue workplace fairness. Those leaders were Torod Neptune, SVP, Corporate Marketing and Chief Communications Officer, Matt Walter, Chief Human Resources Officer, and Dr. Sally Saba, Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and President of the Medtronic Foundation. 

Bridging DEI and Strategic Business 

To Neptune, the role of C-suite leaders is to recognize the gap between a company’s stated values and operational reality. To connect DEI to business operations, leaders must learn to articulate how their strategy can help bridge that gap. 

“I think about my life on a continuum in terms of the corporation that I sit in today,” Neptune said. “On one end, you have the company we desire to be, who we articulate our desired position to be. On the other end, you have the company that we are in reality. Most of my days are spent trying to bridge that divide.” 

Walter offered examples from Medtronic as to how his team successfully integrates DEI and daily operations. He framed those examples in terms of three focus areas:  

  • Innovation: Diverse perspectives lead to great creativity and innovative solutions. That drives success in the marketplace. 
  • Customer Base: To effectively serve all customers, especially in the healthcare industry, diversity is paramount to success. 
  • Employees: Investing in institutions that support historically underrepresented groups allows companies to attract and retain the best industry talent. 

Leaning on these pillars helps business leaders create a framework to support marketplace success through a DEI strategy. 

“If you can have alignment between that business strategy, and what your values are your core beliefs, then you’ve always got something to tether back to,” Walter said. “Having a framework, being disciplined about that as your framework and always being able to link your decisions back to that framework can be extremely valuable.” 

Data-Driven Insights

Developing a successful DEI framework and connecting it to business operations requires sincere commitment from DEI leaders. Even though the data supports DEI strategies as a business resource, expressing that data in a way that encourages C-suite buy-in necessitates a thoughtful, comprehensive operational outline. As Dr. Saba explained, Medtronic pursues that outline through quarterly reviews. 

“Data is how we drive our work,” said Dr. Saba. “On a quarterly basis, our CEO and all of his director reports and all of our HRLT (Human Resources Leadership Team) sit in a meeting for eight hours every single quarter. What we talk about is our diversity strategy and everything that goes on about it.” 

To learn more about the 2024 Top 50 event and to hear from other featured event speakers, visit our Top 50 event page!