Medtronic & Humphrey: Knowing our Role, Starting at Home
Improving the community’s health through medical advances and increasing access to care. This sounds like it could be the mission of one of the research centers at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, but in fact it’s a guiding principle of Medtronic, the world’s largest medical technology company and lead sponsor of this year’s Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Awards.
The partnership between Medtronic and the Humphrey School is a natural one, according to Rob Clark, Medtronic vice president for global communications and corporate marketing and a Humphrey School Policy Fellow alumnus and dean’s advisory council member.
“I think Medtronic and any corporation of our size and stature needs to be involved in the community it’s in," Clark says. "The mission and perspective of the Humphrey School is around bringing together public and private sectors to advance the common good and address issues in our community and state. It’s the right approach and Medtronic is proud to support an institution with this kind of mission.”
One example of this kind of public-private partnership in the community is a Medtronic effort focused on recruiting and retaining employees for skilled manufacturing positions from the North Minneapolis and Cedar-Riverside neighborhoods. The Center for Integrative Leadership, based at the Humphrey School, is providing research support for this initiative, consistent with its mission of contributing to shared public-private leadership for social good. This research illustrates how factors such as childcare, transportation, and state benefits funding impact Medtronic’s ability to recruit and retain skilled employees.
In fact, deep community involvement through corporate citizenship is critical to Medtronic’s mission.
“From the beginning, our mission has been all about alleviating pain, restoring health, and extending life,” explains Jacob Gayle, Medtronic vice president for philanthropy and president of the Medtronic Foundation. “It’s not enough to develop the life-saving and life-extending medical devices that have made Medtronic a global leader; our company ethos demands that we take an active role to expand access to this level of health care for all.”
“In living out our mission, one component has been being a good neighbor wherever we are present and ensuring equity in access to health care, especially for those who are historically underserved,” Gayle says. “When you look at identifying the people with greatest need, they are often populations that have been displaced--people affected by immigration, refugee status, and disasters, both natural and political. These are the populations around the world that tend to have some of the greatest health disparities and least access to quality care. We’re committed worldwide to reducing that gap. People will often think of rural and underserved communities’ needs, but the greatest disparities can be just a few neighborhoods away from where you and I live. We need to start at home and expand to other homes around the world.”
The Humphrey School is a logical partner in these efforts. “We’re like minded,” says Jim Southwick, Humphrey School Policy Fellow alumnus and Medtronic vice president for global government affairs. “Those who come through the Humphrey School have an understanding of how social policy and programming work together to make a difference. We recognize the challenges ahead and see that the work we need to do cannot be accomplished by operating in siloes.”
Clark adds, “Part of the vision of Hubert Humphrey was that the resolution of some of our biggest issues are best solved by the corporate and not-for-profit sectors in partnership. For any sort of long-standing, sustainable progress to be made, all players, from every sector, need to be at the table with an understanding of their role. By working with the Humphrey School on efforts like the North Minneapolis and Cedar Riverside jobs program we are empowering residents, building coalitions, and ultimately improving the community where we live, work, and play.”