Medtronic on Diversifying the Sales Force With Innovative Programs

Originally published at Medtronic ranked No. 10 on The Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.


When Ursula Douglas started working for Medtronic in 2015, she remembers being the only woman on her sales team and one of the few women of color working as a Medtronic senior interventional sales representative. In fact, the U.S. sales force was one of the least diverse employee groups for Medtronic.

“The team I worked with was fantastic,” recalled Douglas. “But I just wasn’t seeing many others in sales who looked like me.”

Today, the company’s U.S. sales force looks a lot different with more women and people of color on the front lines of global health care, where they play an important role. Sales teams introduce clinicians to the company’s life-saving products and therapies, and support surgeons in the operating room during procedures. In the last past few years, the company’s sales organization increased its representation of women and people of color by more than two percentage points.

“We know that there’s still work to be done, but we’re making big strides in being able to increase minority representation,” said Carlton Weatherby, Vice President and General Manager of the Spine and Biologics business at Medtronic. ”We’re being really intentional about this because the markets we serve are increasingly more diverse today than they were before. There’s an expectation from our customers and our patients that they are seen and represented across the aisle or on the other side of the table.”

Recruiting Outside the Box

Advancing diversity in the sales team meant looking at not just gender and ethnic demographics, but also diverse backgrounds and experience. Medtronic prioritized its ongoing partnership with key sales industry groups, including the National Sales Network (NSN), a nonprofit organization empowering Black sales professionals.

By establishing a significant presence at the NSN’s annual conference, the company aggressively recruited talent with sales backgrounds from other industries. Dontae Fedrick is one of many employees who got their start with Medtronic through NSN.

“I walked in, met with recruiters and executives, and the same day I walked out with a job offer,” said Fedrick, who used to work in health club sales and trauma sales, but now works as a Medtronic spine sales rep. “In my short three years with the company, I’ve already earned a couple of promotions, and I’ve been able to complete my MBA through Medtronic, which has been really great for my career.”

These focused recruiting efforts and intentional actions to remove barriers led to substantial changes in the demographics of several sales teams throughout the company. For example, in the past year, the Advanced Surgical instruments team filled 30 of the 52 new associate level roles with women and 8% of the new hires were ethnically diverse.