Merck & Co.

New Jersey
Health Care Equipment and Services

Corprate Bias Ratings

Risk Level:

Rating - Danger
High Risk

By complying with Human Rights Campaign's controversial demands, Merck increases the risk of dividing employees, alienating customers and harming shareholders. The company covers transgender-related medical costs for its employees and their children and provides specific sexual orientation and gender identity-based benefits. It also uses sex and gender ideology criteria in employee recruitment, vendor selection, marketing, and philanthropic support. Merck forces employees to undergo multiple ideological trainings and uses its reputation, corporate funds, and political influence to support controversial sex and gender ideologies, organizations, and legislation. Merck is part of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media and does not provide its employees with protections against viewpoint discrimination but has not publicly terminated business relationships based on views or beliefs. The company indirectly funds Planned Parenthood. Merck pledged $20 million to BLM and related causes. The company discriminates against religious organizations in its charitable giving and supports LGBTQ causes and organizations. Merck opposed various state and local legislation intended to protect parental rights, girls’ sports, bathroom facilities, and gendered spaces. The company is a bronze partner of PFLAG. For these reasons, Merck receives a High Risk rating.

Criteria
Risk Level
Rationale
Corporate Weaponization
Criteria

Has denied service to customers, suppliers, or vendors due to their political views or religious beliefs OR corporately boycotts, divests, or sanctions regions, people groups, or industries.

Risk Level
Rationale

Merck received a score of 95 on the 2023 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a political stakeholder group. The company recruits employees based on sexual identity issues. The company discriminates against vendors that do not promote divisive sex and gender policies, indicating it prioritizes sexual issues over merit (1)(2). The company is a member of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, which aims to demonetize advertisements and suppress content that “vilifies” individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity, discusses “debated social issues in a negative or partisan context” or spreads “hate speech” (3)(4)(5). However, it has not publicly terminated business relationships due to religious beliefs or political views.

Criteria

Charitable giving (including employee matching programs) policies or practices discriminate against charitable organizations based on views or religious beliefs.

Risk Level
Rationale

Merck’s HRC CEI rating indicates the company will not donate to non-religious charities unless they embrace controversial sexual identity policies (1)(2). Merck will not permit donations to “religious organizations or groups whose activities are primarily sectarian in purpose” (3).

Criteria

Employment policies fail to protect against discrimination based on political affiliation/views and/or religion.

Risk Level
Rationale

Merck’s HRC 2023 CEI rating indicates the company forces employees to attend multiple, controversial trainings on gender identity, sexual orientation, transgender issues, and divisive racial ideology. The company provides gender transition guidelines for its employees and a specific benefits guide with a comprehensive explanation of transgender services funded by the company (1)(2). Merck does not protect its employees from viewpoint discrimination (3).

Corporate Governance and Public Policy
Criteria

Uses corporate reputation to support ideological causes and/or organizations hostile to freedom of expression.

Risk Level
Rationale

Merck’s HRC 2023 CEI rating indicates the company agrees to allow a controversial stakeholder group focused on sexual identity issues to dictate marketing or advertising strategy (1)(2). By doing so, the company risks dividing employees, alienating customers and harming shareholders. The company has signed letters supporting the Equality Act and opposing state-level elections security bills (3)(4)(5). CEO Robert Davis is a member of the Business Roundtable but has not supported ideological initiatives (6). The company opposed various state and local legislation intended to protect parental rights, girls’ sports, bathroom facilities, and gendered spaces (7).

Criteria

Uses corporate funds to advance ideological causes, organizations, or policies hostile to freedom of expression.

Risk Level
Rationale

Merck’s HRC 2023 CEI rating indicates the company covers transgender related costs for its employees and their children, including paid short-term leave, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, chest surgeries, genital surgeries, medical visits and lab monitoring, travel and lodging. Additionally, the company has pledged philanthropic support of at least one organization or event that promotes sex and gender ideology (1)(2). By allowing a political stakeholder group to dictate operations, the company increases health care costs and risks dividing employees, alienating customers and harming shareholders. Merck does both, directly and indirectly, fund Planned Parenthood through partnering with affiliate groups and organizations such as the Family Planning 2020 program (3)(4). Merck is a member of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (5)(6)(7). The company has pledged over $20 million to the Black Lives Matter movement and related causes, though it is unclear which organizations received funding (8)(9). Merck is a copper sponsor of Out & Equal and a corporate partner of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (10)(11). The company is a bronze partner of PFLAG, an LGBTQ+ activist group that promotes books for children with sexually explicit and gender fluid content and advocates against laws that inform parents of their child’s gender dysphoria or prevent unapproved transgender medical treatments for minors (12)(13)(14).

Criteria

Uses corporate political contributions for ideological, non-business purposes.

Risk Level
Rationale

Merck’s HRC 2023 CEI rating indicates the company publicly advocated for controversial sex and gender ideology through local, state or federal legislation or initiatives (1)(2). By allowing a political stakeholder group to dictate operations, the company risks dividing employees, alienating customers and harming shareholders. Merck donates in a bipartisan manner but has donated to the Equality PAC (3)(4)(5).

All links were last accessed and all information was updated on:
February 21, 2024

Company reports are intended for educational use only. Full Disclaimer

Voting History

Date
ESG Category
Proponent
Summary of ResolutionMgmt RecTotal Vote % in Favor
5/23/23GovernanceKenneth SteinerIndependent Board ChairmanAgainst27.80%
5/23/23SocialOxfam America, Inc.Access to COVID-19 ProductsAgainst26.40%
5/23/23SocialThe Province of Saint Joseph of the Capuchin OrderPatents and AccessAgainst23.80%
5/23/23GovernanceBoston Common Asset ManagementIndirect Political SpendingAgainst6.20%
5/23/23SocialNational Legal and Policy CenterBusiness Operations in ChinaAgainst3.20%
5/23/23SocialThe National Center for Public Policy ResearchCongruency Report of Partnerships with Globalist OrganizationsAgainst1.00%
5/24/22SocialOxfam America, Inc.Report on Access to COVID-19 ProductsAgainst35.97%
5/24/22GovernanceKenneth SteinerRequire Independent Board ChairAgainst34.50%
5/24/22SocialNational Legal and Policy CenterReport on Lobbying Payments and PolicyAgainst16.09%

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