Our Disability Inclusiveness Earns Top Employer Award

Learn how we maximize potential by making employees across all dimensions of ability feel valued and empowered
Jan 26, 2022 8:45 AM ET
Campaign: Merck: Employees

More than a billion people live with some form of disability. Many have remarkable skills, great ideas and insights, and a passion for the same things we care deeply about: saving and improving lives.

“People living with disabilities represent a huge source of talent,” says Celeste Warren, our company’s vice president of global diversity and inclusion. “We’ve taken considerable action to create a place where employees across all dimensions of ability feel valued and empowered to make amazing things happen.”

In recognition of our commitment to disability inclusiveness, Disability:IN has presented us with the 2020 Employer of the Year Award. The award is for “exemplary policies, strategies and initiatives that have resulted in measurable results in the areas of disability inclusiveness in the workplace, marketplace and supply chain.”

Disability:IN is a nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion worldwide. The organization presented the 2020 Inclusion Awards across 12 categories during its annual conference, which was held virtually and attended by approximately 2,000 people from 16 countries.

How we help maximize potential

For decades, we’ve known that a diverse and inclusive workforce inspires innovation. It also helps us better understand the unique needs of customers, health care providers and patients who ultimately use our products, including those with disabilities.

Our capABILITY Network is among 10 employee business resource groups (EBRGs), which open doors for networking, learning and expanding awareness. The capABILITY Network provides opportunities for employees with disabilities and helps educate our entire workforce about the many dimensions of disability.

Our capABILITY chapters have grown by nearly 30% in the last year and are thriving in multiple countries, including India, where 40 to 80 million people live with a disability. We also launched the Global Disability & Strategy Council in 2015. The council has paved the way for dozens of successful programs and initiatives that make a difference inside and outside our company.

For example, we’ve created facility-accessibility standards that help our facility managers implement signs, lights, cafeterias, reception areas, parking lots, desks and more to help employees and visitors do their best work. We’re also working to reduce the stigma of mental health by raising awareness and offering mental health first aid training to our employees.

Externally, we’re designing innovative outreach solutions to recruit individuals with disabilities, through partnerships with college and university career centers and disability-related advocacy organizations. One example is our strong alliance with Best Buddies, an international organization that helps people with disabilities get jobs, create friendships and develop partnerships. We’re working closely with Best Buddies to identify and recruit talent.

“We’re proud of the Employer of the Year Award from Disability:IN, because it acknowledges we’re on the right path for our company, our employees and the people we serve. But there’s more we can and plan to do,” says Celeste.

The World Health Organization expects the number of people living with a disability to double from 1 to 2 billion by 2050. “We cannot know for sure what our world will be like years from now,” says Celeste. “But what we do know is that a diverse and inclusive workforce is critically important in helping us solve health care challenges today and in the future.”