Past Event

Paradigm for Parity® CEO Sandra Quince Interviews Merck’s Celeste Warren About Ways Companies Can Better Support Black Women in the Workplace

In recognition of Black History Month, the Paradigm for Parity® coalition hosted a LinkedIn Live focused on the unique challenges facing Black women in the workforce and how companies can better support them.

The coalition’s CEO, Sandra Quince, interviewed Celeste Warren, the Vice President of the Global Diversity & Inclusion Center of Excellence at Merck. Warren is also a member of CNBC’s Workforce Executive Council and World 50’s Inclusion and Diversity Impact Community.

In a Q and A, Quince asked Warren to speak about her personal journey to the executive level, to talk about how companies can attract and retain Black talent, and to offer advice she has for young Black women beginning corporate careers. Warren shared that “The pandemic and social unrest was the perfect storm. Black women have a stereotype of a strong Black woman. But you don’t have to feel like you have to take it all on yourself.”

Warren continued, “In today’s world, tomorrow is right around the corner. With that tomorrow, there are skills and capabilities that we all need to learn in order to keep ourselves relevant. In order for organizations to stay relevant in today’s market, you have to understand what keeps you relevant. It’s people and culture. We have to upskill and reskill.”

Quince added that “A sense of belonging is critically important in an organization. And one way to advocate for a sense of belonging is by creating a sense of inclusion. That’s why it is important to understand the difference between diversity and inclusion.”

Quince outlined the four key attributes of effective leaders: being transparent, being trustworthy, investing in their people, and creating opportunities for courageous conversations or authentic conversations. Quince emphasized that “Diversity should be reflected in the community you create and serve. But what makes employees want to bring their best and brightest? A sense of belonging, inclusion. It starts with the leadership and the managers.”

As data from the end of 2021 shows, Black women are leaving the U.S. workforce at a higher rate than any other demographic group. With these tips, companies can — and must — do all they can to reverse the disproportionate impact of the pandemic and ensure that Black women have the support, resources and ability to succeed in the workplace.

Celeste Warren and Merck join140 Paradigm for Parity® member companies working to lift up women of all races, cultures and backgrounds to close the gender gap in corporate leadership. If your company is interested in learning more or joining the coalition, please reach out to us at

About Paradigm for Parity®

Paradigm for Parity® is a coalition of business leaders dedicated to addressing the corporate leadership gender gap. The coalition is made up of CEOs, senior executives, founders, board members, and business academics who are committed to achieving a new norm in the corporate world: one in which women and men have equal power, status, and opportunity. The ultimate goal is to achieve full gender parity by 2030, with a near-term goal of women holding at least 30% of senior roles.