The Importance of Woman Leaders at Merck KgaA Darmstadt, Germany?

At Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, we deeply believe that a diverse workforce – combined with an appreciative and motivating corporate culture – boosts our collective innovative strength and contributes significantly to our business success. The development of all our employees is very important to us and we are working to create an environment where people are able to reach their full potential.

There is clear evidence that diverse teams achieve better results. Studies show that financial performance correlates positively with diversity and that diverse companies are up to six times more innovative and agile. Broad cultural diversity, a diverse workforce with equal gender distribution and a significant share of women in leadership positions make companies economically more successful in the long term.

We have a strong track record of female leaders in all functions. Most recently Belén Garijo, an internationally experienced and highly recognized leader, was announced as the new Chair of the Executive Board and CEO of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, effective May 2021.

As your future CEO is female what else is being done to ensure more women are in leadership positions?
Our company aspires to achieve gender equity across our leadership teams and tracks this progress actively. Although we are gender-balanced across the broad employee population, we strive to achieve gender balance in all areas. To support this effort, we engage all of our leaders, both women and men, in various development programs, unconscious bias trainings, diversity workshops, leadership events, and mentoring programs.

Factors such as a stronger female presence in leadership programs are helping to ensure that female candidates are taken into account when roles are being filled. Our flexible working models and unconscious bias training are also helping to increase the percentage of women in our employee base. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is scrutinizing succession plans and internal development courses to strive for equity. And in an effort to identify qualified women for these leadership roles, the company has identified 100 of its top women in healthcare to be sponsored one-on-one with top executives.

However, diversity has many more facets than the question of gender equality. That’s why Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has many other diversity initiatives underway. We appreciate the diversity that our employees bring to our workforce in terms of their gender, national or ethnic background, sexual orientation, religion, or personal life experience. We are committed to an inclusive culture in which each individual can develop their full potential and contribute their individual perspectives. In order to foster exchanges among like-minded individuals, we also support the specific employee networks in which several thousand of our employees participate. In addition to our women’s networks in various countries, we support networks that promote the interests of the LGBTQI+ community, employees from different ethnic groups and international employees, for example.

What development and trainings are in place to help woman develop?
Women are encouraged to drive their development at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. We have robust resources to help them with some of the soft skill developmental aspects of leadership: ranging from negotiation skill training, creating your elevator pitch, to educating women on how to grow and leverage their networks. Research shows that women tend to focus on their jobs, while men focus on their careers. Women in the workforce may be characterized as “keeping their noses down” to get their best work done, but often miss the opportunity to network and showcase their capabilities. One of the networks that wants to change this is Women in Leadership (WIL), which I co-founded – and I am most proud of the growth of this network as well as the success our sub-teams have had.

When we founded WIL in 2016, we wanted to make a difference in the professional opportunities available to women with the goal of helping elevate women within the company. We formed a small team, used demographic data, surveys, focus groups and leadership interviews to drive our focus. WIL’s research showed that women in the company were looking for networking opportunities, both with leaders as well as their peers to build a community; opportunities to work on skills associated with leadership such as executive presence and public speaking; and for WIL to be a permanent presence within the company.

Today, WIL offers support and resources for women in more than 26 countries, hosting various events such as an International Women’s Day summit to provide various training and development opportunities for women on their career journey. The network offers in-person and virtual live programming; executive coaching; Gender Conference sponsorship; and connections to content and resources for men and women interested in furthering women’s careers. Male and female leaders have shared stories where WIL has prompted them to make changes to how they attract, retain and develop employees, which has resulted in positive outcomes for gender equity.

How does it feel to be at a company that empowers women?
The emphasis at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity, removing any potential barriers systemically to help women and other historically underrepresented groups rise, while also helping them navigate societal barriers. This, coupled with the inspiration and support from leadership, will help the company continue to make progress for gender equity, and also help to show the world that when women work together, our collective torches will light the path for each other, and those in generations to follow.

I’m most proud of the growth of the Women in Leadership (WIL) group, and the successes our sub-teams have had. For example, the unconscious bias training of close to 150 managers across our Healthcare business is helping to eliminate any unintentional biases leaders may have when it comes to hiring, retaining or promoting people. Through this group and the range of topics our sub-teams focus on, from mentoring to communications, our members have also had the chance to showcase their talents and gain exposure to senior leadership, which has helped several women at varying levels in the organization move their development forward. This gives me great pride, as supporting and sponsoring women leaders is an area that needed attention. Helping to close that gap has been a big accomplishment.

About the author

Eileen Martin

Eileen Martin

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Global Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Eileen Martin is the global director of diversity, equity and inclusion for EMD Serono, the U.S. affiliate of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt Germany. She focuses on all aspects of diversity and employee engagement. In her role, Eileen supports initiatives that promote diversity, equity, access, and inclusion. Eileen is the co-founder of Women in Leadership for the U.S. headquarters of EMD Serono. She serves on the steering committee of Leaders of Color, has served on the LGBTQ steering committee, and led an executive team on a diversity action team. She has also helped to launch diversity initiatives in China, including an executive sponsor program. She co-founded and co-leads the Diversity Advocates Board; an executive team devoted to strategic initiatives. Before joining the CEO’s team at EMD Serono/Merck KGaA, Eileen served as the Regional Account Manager for New England.

Eileen’s background in business leadership spans twenty years in the pharmaceutical industry and includes roles of increasing responsibility in sales, sales management and account management within the manufacturer and insurer space. Before joining EMD Serono, Eileen worked on the insurer side as a National Account Executive with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. There she was responsible for securing the retention and growth of national and international employer clients. Prior to her tenure at Blue Cross Blue Shield, Eileen served as a National Account Executive at Merck & Co. In that role, she was accountable for the profit and loss of contracts with several leading Northeast health plans. She worked as a Merck District Business Manager in the greater Boston market and was the first to pilot a position as Provider Group Manager, acting as sole liaison to large Massachusetts integrated delivery networks. That pilot evolved into a national rollout of the defined role throughout Merck US.

Eileen is a multiple time award winner in her sales and management roles. Her accolades include EMD Serono’s Elite Award, Merck US Master’s and President’s Clubs. She holds an M.B.A, in Marketing and Healthcare Management, and a B.A. in English.

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