Posts Tagged cultural differences

Design, delivery & impact of Diversity & Inclusion Training at Medtronic, India location – A case study

This case study was shared in a panel at Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity, 2012, where I was one of the panelists.  (I delivered the training at Medtronic’s various locations across India, in 2010).

A panel moderated by Linda Stokes, President and CEO of PRISM International ( discussed the Implications of D&I for the Global Workforce through the case study of Medtronic’s initiative to integrate Diversity and Inclusion into their locations across India. The panelists, Tonya Hampton, HR Director with Medtronic (, Dr. Kizzy Parks, Assessment and Measurement Consultant, and Dr. Darshana Nadkarni (, Diversity Facilitator, shared about the diversity training initiative that was rolled out in India, in July 2010.

Hampton shared about Medtronic’s vision to anchor the diversity and inclusion initiative with the business case. There are over 32 M people with diabetes in India and CHD (coronary heart disease) has risen 4-fold over the past 40 years. India and China represent $5B market for Medtronic.   It is also an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of the patients, since diabetes and CHD are manageable diseases, with timely intervention, said Hampton.  She partnered with her colleague, Titus Arnold, in India, to roll out the training initiative.  The survey response from the Medtronic India team, during the initial data gathering and assessment period, was amazingly high, said Parks.

Based on the responses received, Stokes designed the training and Nadkarni helped customize it for Medtronic, India.  The training was delivered at Medtronic’s five different locations, across India by Nadkarni.  Nadkarni shared some highlights.  The training was anchored in the Medtronic business case and began with providing the attendees with a broad awareness of diversity.  The participants got an opportunity to self examine perceptual screens and stereotypes and then expand it to examine cultural differences.  As opposed to low context Western and corporate culture, as a country, India represents a high context culture, where the meaning of the communication is often embedded in the context in which the communication occurs, not just in the words.  For instance, if a US boss emphasizes to the employee located in India, that it is critical that the project is ready as soon as possible and then asks if it would be ready by a specific date, the response from the Indian employee may not always be accurate.  For instance, even when an Indian employee might be aware that the project is not likely to be ready by the requested date, it is likely that the Indian employee might not say that but instead may give a weak answer like “I will do my best”, in an attempt to not displease the US boss.  In the end, when the project is not delivered at the promised date, the US boss is perplexed as to why they were not informed earlier.  In interactive audience participation model, Nadkarni explored the action steps that can be taken to enhance and leverage global partnerships and work relationships, keeping in mind such cultural differences, which if not well managed, can derail global partnerships.  Participants indicated that they walked away with tips and concrete approaches for integrating Diversity & Inclusion into their global locations.

For another blog on other Diversity and Inclusion panels at the Multicultural Forum, please click on the link below. . For information on Diversity & Inclusion training for Effective Global Business Practice, please contact Dr. Darshana Nadkarni at penmealine at yahoo dot com .

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