Beacon Award 2021 Honoree Spotlight

Boston Scientific: Driving change in the workplace, accelerating change in the community

“A lot of companies talk about this work, but Boston Scientific puts resources and knowledge behind its initiatives.”

In 2018, the medical device manufacturer announced its “10/20/40” goals, a two-year initiative to earn recognition as a Top 10 Inclusion Index Company, increase its multi-cultural talent to represent at least 20 percent of supervisors and managers, and grow the global number of women at supervisor and manager levels to 40 percent.

Two years later, the company had reached the first two goals and was closing in on the third (women currently represent just over 38 percent of Boston Scientific supervisors and managers). But rather than rest on this considerable achievement, they set the bar even higher.

At the beginning of 2020, they set three new, ambitious measures to continue its focus on increasing the representation of women and multi-cultural talent within the Boston Scientific workforce. Entitled “3Up by 2023,” the company now aims to grow the number of women and people of color at the supervisory and managerial levels, while retaining a place in top 10 lists for workplace inclusion. To accomplish this, Boston Scientific leadership is examining its practices from recruitment to learning opportunities.

“One of the things we are taking a stronger look at is how we write job descriptions. Is there bias in how they are drafted? Are we writing them in a way that discourages more diverse candidates?” said Desiree Ralls-Morrison, senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at Boston Scientific. “We’re also ensuring that more women and people of color have access to  professional development programs and mentoring.”

Outside of its offices, Boston Scientific is offering substantive support to major local DEI initiatives, including a $1 million donation to The New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund, which was founded by a coalition of local Black and Brown executives, including Ralls-Morrison, to work with community organizations in addressing systemic racism and racial inequity.

The company is also a part of the CEO Action For Diversity and Inclusion, a CEO-driven commitment to increasing diversity in business. As part of this effort, Boston Scientific employees can apply for a fellowship to work for up to two years on this coalition’s goals – while remaining on the company’s payroll – and then return to Boston Scientific upon completion. Boston Scientific is sponsoring four fellows.

Many of these initiatives were underway in May of 2020, when George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis. As the events unfolded in Minnesota and reactions were heard around the country and the world, Boston Scientific took swift action to offer its employees a supportive space to articulate their feelings.

“I’m the executive sponsor of our Bridge Employee Resource Group (ERG), focused on supporting and advancing Black employees. As soon as the George Floyd video appeared on the news, I received a call from the ERG’s global leader, and we agreed to get the employees together for a talking session to see what they needed and what they were feeling.” said Ralls-Morrison. “During the session, there were tears and a lot of emotion. People – of all backgrounds – were sharing stories of the moment when they first realized that there was this disparity in how people of different races were treated. Then people started asking questions like ‘what can I do?’ and ‘what is the company going to do?’ It was very impactful.”

Among the participants at that talking session was Boston Scientific CEO Mahoney, who penned an open letter on standing up to racism and intolerance. It was a message that Ralls-Morrison says inspired not only more listening sessions, but new action.

“There was a real desire by people to put what they were feeling into action; to come up with concrete plans and actions both internally and externally that would actually move the needle on systemic racism.”

Within the company, Boston Scientific is amplifying its efforts to diversify its employee base. In addition to the 3Up strategies aimed at attracting and retaining employees, a suite of new initiatives – like manager accountability and recognition for demonstrating inclusive behaviors – are being developed.

Externally, Boston Scientific has launched a five-pillar plan aimed at mitigating systemic racism. Each pillar is led by a member of the company’s senior leadership, and has a cross-functional “tiger team” of employee volunteers. The teams are tasked with building an action plan for their pillar, and Boston Scientific is committed to putting its financial and other resources behind it. The five pillars are:

  • Community: Expanding the public conversation on anti-racism and supporting social justice organizations.
  • Economic empowerment: Accelerating the development of Black-owned businesses through financial support and sharing of knowledge and expertise to entrepreneurs.
  • Education: Creating new professional opportunities for Black youth, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
  • Healthcare: Addressing the disparities in healthcare, which has long existed but has become even more apparent with Covid.
  • Government: Advocating for anti-racism legislation and changes in policies to mitigate inequities.

Peter Hurst, the President and CEO of the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council (GNEMSDC), believes the resources that Boston Scientific is putting into the community will have a substantive impact.

“The investment by Boston Scientific and others in New England will allow us to continue to build an even more effective Development Program to make more of New England’s minority businesses stronger,” he said. “Minority business development helps reduce the country’s racial wealth gap, and our Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Development Program will continue to contribute to the health and growth of our current and future MBEs. COVID-19’s adverse impact on minority owned businesses requires a laser-like focus on the levers that drive MBEs’ success, including: access to contracts with buyers in the private sector and the public sector; access to intellectual capital that allows MBEs’ owners to be more effective leaders and managers; and access to financial capital that supports their growth, whether one contract at a time or through mergers and acquisitions.”

The local chapter of the Boston Scientific BRIDGE ERG works closely with the Boys & Girls Club of MetroWest, including volunteering at the Marlborough Clubhouse (pre-COVID-19) to speak with low-income youth about their career paths and overcoming challenges. To expand its involvement with the organization, Boston Scientific recently teamed up with the Boston Celtics to renovate the Clubhouse.

“The uninviting room has transformed into a place for teens to learn, grow, and play thanks to Boston Scientific and the Boston Celtics,” said Steve Zepf, Director of Operations at the Boys & Girls Clubs of MetroWest. “This investment proves that not only do our kids matter, but what they are able to do at the Club will help them in their future and will help our community in the future.”

“A lot of companies talk about this work,” said Ralls-Morrison. “Boston Scientific puts real resources and knowledge behind its initiatives.”

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