Beyond talk: Taking action to achieve meaningful change

Aug 18, 2020

By Wendy Carruthers, Senior Vice President of Human Resources

“We are all in this together.” Are we, really?

As the global community responded to the coronavirus pandemic, every one of us heard the rallying cry of togetherness. Yet despite the message’s morale-boosting intention, the pandemic exposed many ugly truths. We are not all in it together. COVID-19 has highlighted the deep inequities that persist disproportionately in communities of color. And the tragic and unsettling death of George Floyd, preceded by those of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and unfortunately so many others, has cast a spotlight on longstanding racism in the United States and around the world.

These disturbing events led to an open letter from Boston Scientific leadership condemning injustice and systemic racism, while reaffirming our commitment to inclusion, equity, diversity and openness aimed at cultivating a workplace that sets an example for the greater global community. We know we have a lot of work to do over time; but here is what we are doing now to address inequities within our workplace, our communities and in our systems of healthcare.

In our Workplace: Building Diversity and Inclusion from the Inside Out

The reality we are living in is that a job applicant from a marginalized group who alters their resume to remove any references to their race is more than twice as likely to get a call back than those who don’t, according to a widely publicized study by Harvard Business School.¹ At Boston Scientific, we have been combatting opportunity bias such as this by setting aggressive, transparent diversity and inclusion goals to enable growth opportunities for all applicants and employees—and we’re holding ourselves accountable to meeting them. In 2018, we announced our two-year 10/20/40 goals, which sparked significant progress while pinpointing areas where we can be doing more. At the beginning of 2020, we set three new ambitious measures to continue our focus on increasing the representation of women and multicultural talent within our workforce.

We’re calling our new goals 3Up by 2023, by which we aim to: 

  • Increase representation of multicultural talent at the supervisory and managerial level to at least 23 percent—an increase of 3 percentage points
  • Increase representation of women at the supervisory and managerial level to at least 43 percent—an increase of 3 percentage points
  • Continue to be a “Top 10%” globally recognized leader for workplace inclusion

Accelerating change requires specific and intentional action. We are complementing and expanding our existing diversity programs with initiatives aimed at eliminating bias, racism and discrimination in our workplace and creating clearer pathways to leadership for women and multicultural talent. It is essential that we provide managers the tools they need to drive meaningful change. For example, we are going beyond mandatory unconscious bias training to require leaders to complete anti-racism, racial equity and “real talk” training, expanding ally and mentorship programs and increasing manager accountability for demonstrating inclusive behaviors. We are also taking deliberate actions to address the lack of Black and Latinx employees at the manager and supervisor level by broadening our hiring and development programs, including those aimed at advancing opportunities for those Black and Latinx employees who build our medical devices to evolve and succeed in business roles. Listening and dialogue are essential to progress and we will continue to gather feedback from employees and course correct as necessary. We invite you to track our progress and learn more about the actions we are taking to achieve our 3Up goals in our workplace. 

In Patient Care: Addressing Health Inequities

In the United States, Black people are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than white people.² Sadly, the global pandemic underscored the severity of health inequities in marginalized communities. For more than 15 years, our Close The Gap initiative has focused on eliminating barriers to care based on race, ethnicity, gender, age, socio-economic status and sexual orientation to help all patients live better lives. For example, we partner with advocacy and physician organizations like the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) on programs that increase patient awareness of cardiovascular disease as well as how to prevent it and treat it. We are also expanding our use of health disparity data to help pinpoint disease prevalence in underserved communities, and we are continuing to broaden our work to raise awareness on the importance of diverse representation in clinical trials for better patient care, including setting diverse enrollment goals for our own studies.

In our Communities: Advancing Equity Through Donations and Engagement

We announced a $2.5 million commitment over a two-and-a-half-year period to support the development of a multi-faceted, long-term strategy to combat systemic racism, inequity and injustice in our workplace and in the communities where we live and work. To date, we have committed $250,000 to help support grassroots, non-profit organizations with recovery efforts in Minnesota and joined other CEOs in the Twin Cities to urge lawmakers to support police and criminal justice reforms. We are also contributing an additional $1 million over the next four years to establish and support the New Commonwealth Racial Equity & Social Justice Fund with other Massachusetts-based companies.

As with many other efforts getting underway nationwide, this is only the beginning, and much more is needed. We are developing action plans that address racism and social injustice in five strategic areas: community, economic empowerment, education, healthcare disparities, and government and legislative change. We will work with other companies and support local and national non-profit organizations to advance progress within these important sectors.

We also continue to focus on targeted social programs that serve low-income or highly diverse communities, whether through individual employee volunteering or institutional grant making. These programs address issues like food insecurity or promote opportunities in STEM careers, among other critical needs in our communities.

Moving Forward Together: Becoming Part of the Solution

Boston Scientific has been committed to diversity and inclusion for many years, but if the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it’s that we need to set our goals even higher and double down on our commitment. To be part of the solution, we can and should do more. We will continue to find ways to unite, to care for one another, and move forward together to address systemic racism and unconscious bias in our workplace and in our communities.

I invite you to learn more about how diversity and inclusion helps Boston Scientific advance science for life—for people of every background, colour and creed—by visiting our website.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn, see here.



2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services