July 2021

Diversity and Inclusion: An Australian Industry Perspective

Kim Prendergast
Senior Director, Joint Reconstruction 
DePuy Synthes, the Orthopaedic Company of Johnson & Johnson

Rich diversity is central to Australia’s national identity. With Indigenous Australians being the world’s oldest continuing civilization, and almost half of our population either born overseas or have a parent born overseas, we are defined by our multicultural community spirit.

Why is it then that only three percent of Australian CEOs are non-European or Indigenous? Or why do females make up only five percent of ASX200 CEO roles? 

Research in business, science, and medicine demonstrates increased diversity among leadership and teams improves productivity, increases innovation, and leads to better patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes.

Whilst there is more work to do, my 21 years in the orthopaedic industry in Australia has been an inspiring journey towards a culture that seeks input from all.

Prior to taking a seat on a Women in Orthopaedics network in 2006, I took pride in thriving in the ‘boys-club’ culture of Orthopaedic Medical Technology. I was a square peg in a round hole but worked hard to build common ground. However, my involvement in this network taught me the link between diversity, business performance and patient outcomes.

Intentional advocacy from senior leaders across the industry is raising the profile of diversity through policy, including the 2018 MTAA white paper on gender equality, and commitments to deliver on clear objectives, such as Johnson & Johnson’s citation as Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) Employer of Choice for Gender Equality. 

Industry culture shift cannot happen without individual behaviour change. It is imperative that each of us take ownership of the steps that lead to transformation. 

My personal journey includes being mentored by male champions focused upon fulfilling my potential. Career success requires hard work and intellect, but the advocacy built through mentoring has been an incredible catalyst for building networks and identifying opportunities.
More recently, I have enjoyed the expanding industry focus into our wider community impact. With over ninety-nine percent of industry royalties and consulting fees paid to white male surgeons, developing diverse partnerships will better enable us to meet differing needs across HCP’s, patients, and communities.

One such example is J&J’s work with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in addressing the challenge of Indigenous Australian underrepresentation in medicine. By funding scholarships across several medical specialties, we hope to contribute to a strong pipeline of Indigenous Healthcare Professionals.

Square pegs are central to a successful team. Each of us is a unique shape. Trusting and embracing the strengths of those around us will fuel the future of human health.

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