Abbott, Merck, J&J do well by minorities

November 1, 1998

Pharmaceutical Representative

Abbott Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co. and Johnson & Johnson are among 50 companies cited by Fortune magazine as the nation's best employers of blacks, Asians and Hispanics.

Abbott Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co. and Johnson & Johnson are among 50 companies cited by Fortune magazine as the nation's best employers of blacks, Asians and Hispanics.

The companies were ranked 26th, 35th and 44th, respectively, in Fortune's first-ever list of this kind. Companies were judged according to the number of minority board members, average pay, the percentage of minority managers, the percentage of minority work force and the number of diversity programs. Fortune made its selections with the help of the Council on Economic Priorities.

"Employees at the 50 best are often encouraged by senior management to discuss and debate delicate race matters in the workplace - without fear of career fallout," the magazine noted. Many of the companies also were praised for donating significant amounts to minority organizations and encouraging minority achievement.

Abbott Pharmaceuticals, for example, was praised for having a summer internship program in science, engineering and business that is considered "the best in the country." In 1997, 40% of the company's 300 interns were minorities.

Abbott has also instated two minorities among its 16 board members. Twenty-eight percent of its total work force is comprised of minorities, the majority of whom are black, and approximately 12% of managers at Abbott are minorities.

At Merck, the percentage of minority managers is just over 12%, and two of the company's 13 board members are minorities. More than 24% of Merck's work force is black, Asian or Hispanic; like Abbot, the majority of those employees are black.

In 1995, Merck contributed $20 million to the United Negro College Fund, an amount that ranked among the largest ever received by that organization. Fortune applauded the company for establishing and upholding a reputation for encouraging blacks to study science.

Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, has one minority member on its board, and has a minority work force of more than 29%, the majority of whom are Hispanic. More than 15% of managers at Johnson & Johnson are minorities.

According to Fortune, nearly a third of the company's new hires come from minority groups, and the company's annual affirmative action/equal opportunity awards honor employees who "help people of color succeed." PR

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