National Hispanic Heritage Month: Q&A with Merck
By Edie Stringfellow, Director of D&I at MassBio
Yesterday marked the end of Hispanic Heritage Month, a time for people to recognize the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the group's heritage and culture. But for Merck, every month is Hispanic Heritage Month, as I quickly found out when I interviewed Frank DeLosReyes, Associate Director, Global Diversity & Inclusion at Merck. Frank is part of the Global Diversity & Inclusion Center of Excellence where along with the team, he supports the design and delivery of Inclusion, Diversity and Culture programs in alignment with Merck’s Strategy.
What does National Hispanic Heritage Month mean to Merck?
For Merck, Diversity & Inclusion is a key driver to innovation and supports every aspect of the work we do every day. For more than a century, Merck has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases; and Hispanic Heritage month creates an opportunity for us to highlight historical, cultural and scientific contributions of the Hispanic population. The timing couldn’t be more perfect, as Hispanic Heritage month coincides our annual Global Diversity and Inclusion Experience Month – held every September—where we celebrate different aspects of Diversity and Inclusion and highlight the employees and leaders who make our company so unique. During this time, we reflect on and celebrate the great diversity that makes up Hispanics and Latino/Latina’s in the workplace and highlight examples of prominent Hispanic and Latino/Latinas both inside and outside of the company. We are proud of the great work being done by many of the Hispanic and Latino/Latina scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians, and doctors that make up the Merck community and enable us to deliver innovative health solutions and advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and animals around the world.
Please share with us why you think it’s so important for life sciences companies to support Hispanic recruiting and retention initiatives?
1. Based on labor market projections, we know that Hispanics and Latinos are a growing population and talent pool. According to a recent PEW Research center article, “Diversity in the STEM workforce varies widely across jobs”, “Employment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations has grown 79% since 1990, from 9.7 million to 17.3 million, outpacing overall U.S. job growth.” 2. Hispanics comprise 16% of the U.S. workforce, but among employed adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, they only make up 6% of the STEM workforce. 3. The demand for talent is not decreasing but is increasing, 4. In order for us to stay competitive, innovative and challenge the boundaries in the work we do, we need different perspectives, we need people who are curious, who think about problems and solutions differently, who are passionate about this work and are committed to the science of inventing vaccines and medicines. Companies that support the recruiting and retention of Hispanics and Latinos will be better able to drive innovation, create a competitive value and meet the healthcare needs of patients around the world.
What is it about the Merck Hispanic Organization that sets it apart from other corporate ERGs?
At Merck our EBRG’s are aligned to a strategy which supports the Global Diversity & Inclusion and Company strategy, including:
- Drive the message of global diversity and inclusion throughout the company by implementing of our GD&I key initiatives,
- Provide insights on critical Human Resources strategies, policies and procedures to ensure success across our broad diverse employee base,
- Provide insights and feedback on key business strategies and initiatives to create a competitive advantage for the company,
- Participate in capability building sessions to create the next generation of diverse leaders,
- Increase participation and optimize the impact of the local EBRG chapters across the globe to enhance our brand in the local communities, and
- Provide access to Diverse talent networks and engage with external partners and students to build awareness of STEM careers at Merck
In your opinion, do you think it is encouraged for Latino employees to bring their ‘true-selves’ to work or to ‘assimilate’?
At Merck we encourage all employees to bring their true selves to work. As part of our multi-year Diversity & Inclusion strategy we are building awareness and understanding of our Managers and employees through concepts such as; Unconscious Bias, Psychological safety and Covering. Our goal is to create a culture and environment where all employees feel comfortable being their true selves and sharing their perspective and voice.
According to Nature Biotechnology, Latinos/Hispanics are 18% of the U.S, population, however have only 4% of management and 2% of board seats. What are the contributing factors to this problem? How should we address these issues?
Recognizing that Hispanics comprise 16% of the U.S. workforce, but among employed adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, they only make up 6% of the STEM workforce, it’s essential for companies to take active roles and partner with organizations to build awareness of STEM in diverse communities.
One example of how we’re doing this is by partnering with HISPA (Hispanics Inspiring Student’s Performance and Achievement (link). HISPA is a 501(c)3 non-profit which partners with corporations to mobilize Hispanic professionals as role models to intervene in early education students to role model the importance of continuing their education. Exposing students earlier (elementary and middle school) to potential career’s in STEM is essential to help build greater awareness and interest for them in the Sciences and Math. It’s essential to continue to expose them to Hispanic professionals (mentors) across all segments of STEM who look like, sound like and may have many of the same life experiences as these students.
Another way in which we at Merck are working to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace is by working across organizations and sectors to make a difference. In 2017, we signed the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, committing to making a difference on both the micro and macro-levels to cultivate meaningful change.
As Associate Director, Global Diversity & Inclusion at Merck, Frank is part of the Global Diversity & Inclusion Center of Excellence where along with the team, he supports the design and delivery of Inclusion, Diversity and Culture programs in alignment with Merck’s Strategy. The strategy consists of driving the focus and message of global diversity and inclusion throughout the company by implementing key GD&I initiatives, providing insights on critical Human Resources strategies, policies and procedures to ensure success across our broad diverse employee base, support key business strategies and provide insights and feedback from their diverse populations globally, creating a competitive advantage for the organization.
In addition, Frank is the GD&I lead supporting the Merck Hispanos EBRG, its Leadership team and members. As the D&I EBRG Lead he ensures that the EBRG has the appropriate level of sponsorship and support, that they are focusing on to deliver business insights and value while supporting the company strategy.