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Case study: How Edwards promotes workplace diversity

Edwards is the global leader in patient-focused medical innovations for structural heart disease as well as critical care and surgical monitoring, with product sales in almost 100 countries worldwide. Embracing a diverse workforce helps drive Edwards’ commitment to innovation and serves its aspiration of fostering an inclusive culture where all employees grow and thrive.

This case study is based on the 2017 Sustainability Report by Edwards published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Edwards’ vision is to foster a culture that actively and consistently values diversity  Tweet This!, encouraging employees worldwide to share novel ideas, take risks and push the boundaries of traditional norms for thinking and creating. In order to promote workplace diversity Edwards took action to:
  • implement diversity and inclusion programmes
  • engage employees in diversity
  • prevent unconscious bias
  • implement a summer externship programme

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2017 Sustainability Report Edwards identified a range of material issues, such as product safety and quality, ethics and compliance, patient experience and voice, access to healthcare, product lifecycle, design and innovation. Among these, promoting workplace diversity stands out as a key material issue for Edwards.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards              

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Edwards engages with: 

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Executives

 

·      Formal interviews conducted by third party

·      Workshops

Employees

 

·      Survey of participants in the Edwards Leaders’ Forum and Edwards Lifesciences Leadership Programme
Investors ·      Formal interviews conducted by third party

·      Correspondence regarding ratings surveys

Patients ·      Formal interviews conducted by third party
Board of Directors ·      Formal interviews conducted by third party
Opinion Leaders (Industry Associations) ·      Formal interviews conducted by third party

·      Reviewed relevant reports

GPOs ·      Formal interviews conducted by third party
Wholesalers/Distributors ·      Formal interviews conducted by third party
Regulatory & Certifying Bodies ·      Reviewed proxy materials (ISO standards, FDA documentation)
Customers and Physicians ·      Formal interviews conducted by third party

·      Reviewed customer sustainability reports

Suppliers ·      Formal interviews conducted by third party

·      Reviewed supplier sustainability reports

Community Organisations ·      Reviewed reports and public materials

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Edwards carried out in-person phone interviews with 42 internal and 20 external stakeholders.

What actions were taken by Edwards to promote workplace diversity?

In its 2017 Sustainability Report Edwards reports that it took the following actions for promoting workplace diversity:

  • Implementing diversity and inclusion programmes
  • To foster inclusive thinking and increase the diversity of its workforce, Edwards has developed programmes focused on attracting, engaging and developing diverse talent. Sample activities include:
    • Career fairs for engaging minorities at conferences and university chapters (e.g., National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers)
    • Panel discussions about managing your career at Edwards featuring guests from Edwards’ executive or senior leadership teams
    • Speed Mentoring with senior leadership team members
    • Leadership development classes
    • Hospital Observation opportunities to see Edwards’ products in clinical use
    • Monthly Mix & Mingle social events
    • Welcome Reception for summer interns recruited from the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
    • Summer Externship Programme
  • Engaging employees in diversity
  • Edwards’ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) focus on employee awareness and learning, as well as networking. ERGs host a variety of learning opportunities, networking activities and group events designed to educate, raise awareness, create a sense of community and provide career development opportunities for members. Edwards employees participate in several ERGs that celebrate and advance diversity, which include:
    • Network of Women: Informs, involves and inspires all employees on the value of gender diversity and inclusion into the Edwards culture where employees grow and thrive
    • MultiCultural: Fosters a community that attracts and enables Edwards’ employees across cultures to be connected and empowered, and reach their full potential
    • Friends of Veterans Network: Fosters a community of veterans and veteran-minded employees at Edwards to enhance employee engagement, drive veterans’ talent strategy and serve the veterans community
    • Generations: Supporting issues around work / life integration, parenting, elder care and family caregiving. Chapters include Fertility, Adoption, and Fostering, Working Parents, Early Career Professionals
    • Rainbow Alliance: Creates a community of LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) members and allies that fosters employee engagement and diversity of thought within Edwards through education, support, visibility, and advocacy; together, striving to cultivate an environment of acceptance and respect for all employees
  • Preventing unconscious bias
  • Edwards’ Leveraging Diversity workshop addresses unconscious bias by encouraging inclusive thinking and behaviours from the top down. The training also helps individuals develop their cultural competency skills to work effectively across both similarities and differences. Post-training evaluations have shown the sessions are effective in changing peoples’ mindsets on how they promote, hire and engage with colleagues.
  • Implementing a summer externship programme
  • In coordination with community organisations Girls Inc. of Orange County and 100 Black Men of Orange County, Edwards continued its annual summer externship programme for under-represented high school aged students. In 2017, this externship programme gave 15 students the experience of job shadowing with Edwards employees from several functional areas of the company, exposing them to a variety of business situations. Edwards provided employees with diversity training and held all-inclusive events on campus, to promote inclusion among co-workers. Edwards also attended the National Society of Black Engineers and recruited interns as well as permanent employees.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees

2) Disclosure 406-1 Incidents of discrimination and corrective actions taken

 

Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees corresponds to:

Disclosure 406-1 Incidents of discrimination and corrective actions taken corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Business theme: Non-discrimination
  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Non-discrimination
  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Business theme: Non-discrimination 

 

80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.



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References:

1) This case study is based on published information by Edwards, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to Edwards: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.

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