Walk­ing The Talk

- —Katie Jennings

Merck CEO Ken Fra­zier is one of four Black chief ex­ec­u­tives lead­ing Amer­ica’s largest pub­licly traded com­pa­nies, and he’s aware of the re­spon­si­bil­ity this con­fers. “If you’re com­pla­cent with the sta­tus quo, you’re com­plicit in the struc­tural racism and in­equal­ity that the sta­tus quo hides,” he says. In July, the New Jer­sey–based phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal gi­ant—which is de­vel­op­ing two Covid-19 vac­cines and tops its in­dus­try on this year’s Just 100—stopped ad­ver­tis­ing on Face­book and In­sta­gram, call­ing on the plat­forms to “stop hate speech, racism and dis­crim­i­na­tion.” In­ter­nally, un­der­rep­re­sented groups ac­counted for 36% of new hires in 2018, up from 22% four years ear­lier, and women make up 49% of its work­force. “Our goal is to en­sure that the di­ver­sity of our em­ploy­ees mir­rors the ex­ter­nal world and our pa­tients,” Fra­zier says. “We have to do more, and do bet­ter.”

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