Merck Condemns Boy Scout Gay Ban, Halts Funding

Merck & Co. has stopped donations to the Boy Scouts because of the organization's ban on gay scout leaders and members.

Merck & Co. has ended all of its funding to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) because of the organization's refusal to allow gay and lesbian scouts and leaders. The decision was praised by gay-rights organizations, including GLAAD and Scouts for Equality, which have avidly petitioned corporations to take a stand against the ban.


The announcement, made by Merck Foundation Executive Vice President Brian Grill, is an affirmation of the company's core value of inclusion. Merck & Co. is No. 16 in the 2012 DiversityInc Top 50.

"We cannot continue to provide support to an organization with a policy that is contrary to one of our core beliefs. We remain ready and willing to re-consider our funding position in the event that the BSA were to revise its policy," Grill said in a statement. "We're confident that this decision is aligned with our high ethical giving standards and strong core beliefs, and reinforces our long-standing commitment to policies that prevent against discrimination."

The company also plans to review its other funding decisions for 2013 and will evaluate whether those contributions align with the company's policies and ethical beliefs.

Records show that in 2011, Merck gave $30,000 to the Boy Scouts of America and $10,000 to the Cradle of Liberty Council, which governs troops in the Philadelphia area, where Merck Chairman, President and CEO Kenneth Frazier grew up.

LGBT Discrimination & Boy Scouts

The Boy Scouts' gay ban, which prohibits LGBT people from participating in the organization as leaders and scouts, has been in place for more than a decade. In June, the BSA was slammed by LGBT supporters when it failed to make any revisions to its anti-gay ban and refused to allow Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian, to resume leadership of her troop.

Other corporations have suspended funding to the BSA as well. Additionally, two Boy Scouts board members have spoken out on the issue: Ernst & Young (No. 6 in the DiversityInc Top 50) Chairman and CEO Jim Turley became the first board member and corporate leader to publicly urge the BSA to change its policy, and AT&T (No. 4) Chairman, President and CEO Randall Stephenson also issued a public statement promoting diversity and inclusion. Both companies earned 100 percent scores on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index.

Ernst & Young, No. 4 in The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees, and Turley in particular have been very visible supporters of diversity and inclusion. Turley spoke at a DiversityInc event, for example, about his public pronouncement for the rights of women in Saudi Arabia, and he served as keynote for the Committee for Economic Development's release of its "How More Women on Corporate Boards Would Make America and American Companies More Competitive" report.

Stephenson also spoke at a DiversityInc event, discussing the need for cultural diversity in education and corporations' responsibility to build diverse talent pipelines among talented youth. AT&T is No. 8 in The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees.

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