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About Deb Dagit

Deborah Dagit
President, Deb Dagit Diversity LLC
Recently Retired Chief Diversity Officer and
Vice President, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Merck

Photo of Deb DagitDeborah Dagit joined Merck as their Chief Diversity Officer in June 2001. She has had responsibility for global equal opportunity, employee relations, recruiting and staffing and diversity & inclusion and is now transitioning to lead Deb Dagit Diversity consulting.

With over 80,000 employees and operating in over 100 countries, workforce diversity is no small matter at Merck. Under Ms. Dagit’s leadership at Merck, organizations such as Diversityinc, Working Mother, the Families and Work Institute, the Department of Defense 2010 Freedom Award (Veterans), the 2005 Department of Labor New Freedom Award (People with Disabilities) and the Human Rights Campaign have recognized the company for its exemplary work in diversity and inclusion. Merck has undergone more than 55 different federal audits for compliance with U.S. Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity requirements for federal contractors since 1980 – each time, receiving a letter of compliance.

Most recently Ms. Dagit introduced the company’s signature Business Insight Roundtables which is an innovative business focused global strategy that builds on and enhances prior employee engagement efforts. This structure integrates the company’s grass roots Employee Resource Groups and the global governance council into one “Roundtable” team that is focused on enhancing the company’s global strategies with respect to talent and inclusion, corporate responsibility and business insight. The nine Roundtables include Women, Veterans, African Ancestry, Hispanic/Latino, Native/Indigenous, Differently Able, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, Asia Pacific, and Interfaith. Each Roundtable is lead by a senior line leader who is assisted by a “chief of staff,” also from the line, who together provide line of sight to colleagues around the world re: top business priorities as well as offering a conduit for productive dialogue whereby all employees can ensure their voices are heard by decision-makers across the organization.

Diversity Magazine imageMs. Dagit joined Merck from Silicon Graphics, Inc. where she was the leader of Learning Communications and Diversity since 1993. Prior to Silicon Graphics, Ms. Dagit was the leader of Strategic Cultural Initiatives for Sun Microsystems, Inc. from 1991 to 1993. Previously, she founded and managed Bridge-to-Jobs, a job placement organization through which she helped to place 400 people with a broad range of disabilities into full time employment. She played a key role in the passage of the American with Disabilities Act through lobbying efforts in California and Washington, D.C.

Ms. Dagit earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in Psychology from Oregon State University, and conducted her master’s coursework in Clinical Psychology at San Jose State University. She was a founding member in 1991, and a past Chair of the Conference Board’s Workforce Council on Diversity. She served for seven years on the Board of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and was the co-chair in 2009-2011. She also has served on the Business Advisory Council for Catalyst and continues to serve on the Corporate Advisory Team for the Tanenbaum Center for Inter-religious understanding. She is currently the Vice Chair of the Board for the U.S. Business Leadership Network, and serves as a Board member of the Families and Work Institute. She is the author of, “The Promise of Diversity: Reflections on the Not-So-Level Playing Field” and “An Employer’s Guide to Hiring and Accommodating People with Disabilities.”

Given her own visible disability, Deb’s insights are drawn from both her personal experience and professional achievements. Among her many awards, Ms. Dagit has received the 2010 Winds of Change Multicultural Forum on Workforce Diversity, the 2006 Champion of the Year from Out and Equal; the 2000 Exemplary Leader from Silicon Graphics; the 1999 Advocate of the Year from the Black Employees Network; the 1997 Award of Photo of Deb DagitProfessional Excellence from the Northern California HR Council; and the 1996 Tribute to Women in Industry. Ms. Dagit was also asked to speak on diversity and inclusion at the December 2008 “Citadel of Free Speech” City Club of Cleveland which was broadcast live on NPR, and to testify in July 2011 before the U.S. Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions committee re: best practices for improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Ms. Dagit is married and has three children ages 16, 17 and 18.


“Deb’s depth of thinking about all the issues/challenges of our profession, blended with her high degree of tolerance for all people, and ability to meet them where they are, in their intellectual space, is rare – Deb is our force, our special package of visionary, program executive, strategist and cultural diplomat.”

- Ted Childs, Ted Childs, LLC

“Deb Dagit not only transformed Merck when it comes to diversity and inclusion — she transformed the field.  She was as fierce an advocate for the diversity issues she had experienced personally as she was for the diversity and inclusion issues of others.  Somehow she did so in such an affirming way that even as she was kicking butt, her audiences would thank her for it.”

- Andres Tapia,  President, Diversity Best Practices and author of The Inclusion

Paradox: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity www.diversitybestpractices.com

Since 1993, you have been instrumental in assisting executives on our Global Diversity Council to gain tools and insights that give them and their companies a strong advantage in an increasingly fast-paced and competitive business environment.  Likewise, your work in the field of diversity and inclusion is and always has been preeminent and impactful.

- Jonathan Spector, President and CEO, The Conference Board, June 14, 2012

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