Inspiring innovation through diversity and inclusion

When we bring together people from different backgrounds, the possibilities for invention are endless

January 25, 2024

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Inspiring innovation through diversity and inclusion

A diverse and inclusive workforce inspires innovation and is fundamental to our company’s success. Having an environment composed of people from different dimensions of diversity also helps us better understand the unique needs of the customers, health care providers and patients we serve.

Below are some of the ways we celebrate our diverse workforce and a culture of equity, empowerment, engagement and belonging:


Supporting a disability-confident workforce

At our company, everyone should feel empowered to help deliver on our purpose of using the power of leading-edge science to save and improve lives around the world. This includes our colleagues who live with disabilities.

Our Global Disability Inclusion Strategy Council recognizes and values the importance of a disability-confident workforce and offers resources to ensure people with disabilities — including physical, neurological, mental, rare or any other forms of disabilities — are included and prepared to succeed in all areas of our business.

Michael A. Klobuchar

“My hope is for our company to be an example of what’s possible.”

  • Michael Klobuchar
    Executive vice president and chief strategy officer, and executive sponsor of the Global Disability Inclusion Strategy Council

Key programs and partnerships include:

  • capABILITY in Action, a joint program launched with Accenture and run in partnership with workforce solutions company Rangam to attract, recruit and retain neurodivergent talent.
  • Valuable 500, a global partnership of 500 companies committed to accelerating disability inclusion through best practices such as digitally accessible technology, mental health awareness and more.


Building a pipeline of diverse talent

With our Skills-First approach to hiring, we’re shifting the ways we attract, develop and advance talent. For appropriate roles, this new approach increases the focus on skills instead of a four-year degree, creating equitable access to meaningful career opportunities for diverse candidates.

Key partners in our efforts include:

  • OneTen, a coalition of leading companies helping to close the opportunity gap for Black talent in the U.S.
  • Year Up, a nonprofit that offers economically disadvantaged youth six months of training followed by a six-month corporate internship.
  • Hiring Our Heroes, an organization that connects the military community to civilian employers and helps upskill service members in preparation for post-service careers.

“OneTen provides an opportunity to create a workforce that reflects the diverse communities we serve, and make a significant long-term impact.”

  • Ngozi Motilewa
    Associate director, talent acquisition, and Skills-First/OneTen lead


Economic inclusion and business diversity

We’ve been championing business diversity and underrepresented entrepreneurs for nearly 40 years, recognizing that a diverse supply chain creates a competitive advantage for our company and positively impacts the global community.

We continue to exceed industry best practices by spending more than 10% of our purchase budget with minority-, women-, veteran-, LGBTQ+-, disability-owned and small business enterprises. And we’re continuing to push ourselves to do more: As a member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable, we’ve made a long-term commitment to spend $4.4 billion with diverse suppliers and small businesses by 2030.

“We’re thinking broader and bolder, and we’ll continue enriching a global diverse business community, reaffirming our commitment to creating healthy and equitable outcomes for our business, patients and communities.”

  • Susanna Webber
    Senior vice president and chief procurement officer

Key initiatives include:

  • The Merck Drexel Advanced Leadership Program for Diverse Suppliers, in partnership with Drexel University, provides diverse business owners and executives opportunities to enhance their networks, build business and leadership acumen and more.
  • Our Economic Inclusion Virtual Lab offers monthly opportunities for diverse and small-business owners to engage with our supply chain professionals, prime suppliers and advocacy organizations.


Celebrating global diversity and inclusion

Since 2015, we’ve celebrated Global Diversity & Inclusion Experience Month in September to foster meaningful discussions and learning around diversity, equity and inclusion, while highlighting diversity and inclusion–focused work and the people who make our company unique.

This monthlong celebration builds diversity and inclusion capabilities among the workforce and creates a platform for employees to speak up about their experiences.

Celeste Warren

“We’ve strengthened our commitment to making diversity and inclusion a central strategy to business growth.”

  • Celeste Warren
    Vice president, diversity & inclusion center of excellence


Employee business resource groups (EBRGs)

With more than 21,500 members across 10 groups, our EBRGs play a critical role in driving an inclusive culture and supporting employee career growth. They represent diversity within our company and reflect the communities in which we live and serve.

Marcos Roberto da Costa headshot

“I’m proud of our long-standing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

  • Marcos Roberto da Costa
    Vice president, operational excellence, MMD, and executive sponsor for Merck’s EBRG supporting colleagues with disabilities and their allies

“It has made us a more innovative and agile company — one that’s better attuned to the needs of our employees, patients and customers.”