How do you create a competitive advantage in the workplace in 2023? The promises for diversity, equity and inclusion that many companies made in 2020 have been left on read with their efforts gone stagnant, leaving candidates and employees expecting more. The companies that have survived wars and recessions did so by adapting to the ever-changing expectations of the external world. If you want to attract and retain talent in today’s turbulent landscape, you need a holistic Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy embedded into your practices and culture. Enter Celeste Warren, Merck’s Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence, who says, “The world is evolving and as it evolves, the focus on DEI is going to be amplified. We see it in the headlines. We see it in the social, economic, and political changes across the world. The impact of DEI on the business landscape is going to continue to grow. Look at the changes in how we work, where we work, the impact and changes on leaders and managers, and the expanding responsibility of companies to go beyond the bottom line.”

Celeste is presenting at the 2023 Philly SHRM Symposium to talk about creating a holistic DEI strategy that not only touches every aspect of the employee life cycle, from talent acquisition through leaving the organization, but integrates product development, vendors, manufacturing, and customer experience. She says, “you can’t look at it myopically, it’s not just your workforce representation. How are you integrating DEI in the various aspects of your organization from a business perspective? I’ll talk about why it’s important to do that and the impact it has on your organization.”

When asked how she handles resistance, Celeste just keeps pushing through. “You’re always going to have resistance,” she says, “What’s the context? What’s the genesis of it? You have that conversation and meet them where they are. The benefits of DEI and how it benefits cultural belonging and how people feel valued, that’s the business driver.”

Celeste acknowledges how creating equity can cause disruption in an organization and how that disruption brings us closer to the goal of sustaining change and true equality. It comes as no surprise that her favorite quote is Maya Angelou. “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”

About Celeste Warren

Celeste Warren is Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence. As

the leader for Merck’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence, she is responsible for

working with Merck’s global leaders to advance and embed diversity and inclusion throughout the

organization to enhance the employee experience and maximize business performance. Celeste’s articles on diversity, equity and inclusion have been featured in numerous national and global publications and she has had the opportunity to speak at various events across the world.

About the Author

Brooke Cracchiolo is the Human Resources Generalist at EwingCole, an architecture and engineering firm, based in Philadelphia, PA. She has extensive experience in talent strategy and operations and a passion for DEI. Brooke holds two BA’s from Montclair State University and a MS in Human Resource Development from Villanova University, with a Human Resources Business Partner Certification. Brooke is a marathoner, and member of Philly SHRM’s Thought Leadership Team and Emerging Leaders Team.


Editor: Dennis Paris