Our commitment to the Black community

From clinical trials to jobs creation, here’s how we’re advancing health equity, employment and more within the Black community

February 9, 2021

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A Merck scientist working in the lab

True innovation is achieved through powerful ideas from a diverse range of backgrounds. At our company, amplifying inclusion and promoting diversity have always been essential to our success.

“Our goal is to create an equitable environment in which all people have a fair opportunity to advance their careers,” says Ken Frazier, our company’s chairman. To achieve that, we’ve empowered our leaders and managers to foster a more diverse workforce and to drive equity across our organization and beyond.

Here are just a few ways we are working to engage with the Black community both within our company and in the community at large:


Prioritizing diversity in our clinical trials

A woman at the doctors office having a conversation

Our responsibility as a company is clear: We must advance knowledge about the safety and efficacy of treatments in all people. And for us, this starts with ensuring the representation of diverse populations from the very beginning of medicine and vaccine development – our clinical trials.

Our U.S. clinical trials team has adopted an approach that puts patients front and center. From trial design to recruitment to all the way through implementation, patients drive our process.

“Diversity in our trials is not just an initiative – it’s our way of working,” says Adrelia Allen, director, clinical trial patient diversity. “It’s woven into all steps of the trial process, and it must be proactive – not reactive.”

Read more about Clinical trials & the power of diversity


Making commitments to increase employment

A man walking through the workplace

In this moment when all Americans share an aspiration for economic opportunity, leading executives and employers across industries are taking action to make meaningful, measurable and lasting systemic impact on racial and economic justice and to create a more equitable society.

That’s why Ken Frazier has signed on as co-chair for OneTen, an initiative aimed at closing the opportunity gap for Black Americans. OneTen will combine the power of American companies to upskill, hire and promote one million Black Americans over the next 10 years into family-sustaining jobs with opportunities for advancement.

“We are very excited to be participating in this collaboration and proud that our CEO is one of the drivers behind this initiative,” says Steve Mizell, EVP and chief human resources officer. “We look forward to learning, sharing and growing across the network of organizations who will be joining in these efforts.”


Closing the opportunity gap

High school students at our Kenilworth site in June 2019 as part of the INROADS program

Our mission of saving and improving lives goes beyond the important work we do creating medicines and vaccines. It also extends to our impact on the community, and in fulfilling that mission, we can also help efforts to close the opportunity gap.

That’s why our company is a corporate partner with Year Up, an organization committed to ensuring equitable access to economic opportunity, education and justice for all young adults—no matter their background, income or zip code. Through a combination of in-demand technical and professional skills development and corporate internship experience, Year Up’s intensive training program connects talented and motivated young adults to meaningful career pathways, while connecting companies like Merck to a pipeline of diverse, bright and skilled talent.

In 2019, Merck partnered with INROADS, an international nonprofit organization that prepares talented, diverse youth for corporate and community leadership, and launched a yearlong College Links program for high school students in Newark, New Jersey, to increase college and career readiness.

Although there’s more work to be done, these are just some of the ways our company is living its commitment to stand up for the Black community and foster a more diverse and prosperous world.