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How diversity drives business agility


By Ben Brinker, President of International, Medical Segment

What are the keys to creating an agile business culture? That’s something I’ve been reflecting on as we go through the process of standing-up the new Cardinal Health International Medical Products and Distribution business unit. 

Agility and adaptability are crucial to business success, but large organizations often struggle to embed these behaviors. So as a leader, how do you inject “agility” into the DNA of your organization? 

recent Forbes article identified the key elements of a vibrant and agile business. High on the list are employee diversity and organizational design.  

In my experience, there are two things organizations need to manage well to become agile. The first is creating an organizational structure that allows employees to freely engage across functions/levels. The second is having a diverse mix of people from different backgrounds focused on one goal. 

The common denominator in both cases is “people.” I’ve found that for agile organizations to thrive, you need to have diversity in the workplace, and a culture that fosters equity and inclusion.  

At Cardinal Health, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive environment where all employees feel like they can build a strong future, grow personally and professionally, and enjoy their work while making meaningful contributions. 

I’ve learned that creating inclusive teams and empowering employees at all levels to share their ideas can have a remarkable impact on organizational agility. I’ve distilled these observations into three components, which I refer to as the “BIG” agility booster program: 

  • Build People
  • Invite Participation
  • Grow Others

Build People: Invest in engaging with talented employees and make time to review their development opportunities. This is crucial. I’m excited to see that these efforts have resulted in role expansions and promotions at all levels across our new International business unit. 

Invite Participation: For an organization to be agile and innovative, people have to feel comfortable challenging entrenched notions. This can only happen if you proactively tap on diverse perspectives. For example, seeking the views of younger employees who may have alternate views and are early technology adopters.

Grow Others: Development is a core part of our culture at Cardinal Health. I consider this a key driver of organizational agility. If everyone, including leaders, continue gaining new skills, you’ll build an organization that is always growing.

Maintaining business agility requires effort. The process is iterative, but the results are cumulative. We work hard at this every day, and we’ve seen some success. We were recently recognized for the second consecutive year as one of The Best Employers in Asia, because our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion has built a successful, agile and people-focused business in the Asia Pacific.

A business can only be agile if it’s inclusive, and its people are empowered. Creating an environment that promotes diversity is the key.

As President of International for Cardinal Health’s Medical Segment, Ben Brinker maintains responsibility for all commercial activities across the APAC, Canada, EMEA and LATAM regions. He joined Cardinal Health in 2017 when the company acquired Medtronic’s Patient Recovery business. Most recently, Brinker served as the senior vice president and general manager of global products for the Medical Segment. In this role, he held responsibility for Cardinal Health's global branded product franchises, Medical Affairs and R&D functions.

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Cardinal Health is a distributor of pharmaceuticals, a global manufacturer and distributor of medical and laboratory products, and a provider of performance and data solutions for healthcare facilities. Subscribe to our News Alerts to get all of our latest news.