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A Little Pin, A Lot of Pride

Andrew License relishes connecting with customers, which recently includes more LGBTQIA+ scientists and allies — an evolution that brings deeper meaning to his day-to-day work.

Andrew License relishes connecting with customers, which recently includes more LGBTQIA+ scientists and allies — an evolution that brings deeper meaning to his day-to-day work.

Andrew proudly holds up Merck Pride pins.

July 11, 2023 | 3 min

While some lab settings require sterile environments, scientists themselves are anything but. For many, bridging professional interests and passions outside of work is important and valuable. It’s not uncommon to find memes pasted over desks, fume hoods or lab signs. Some don lab coats and lanyards adorned with stickers and badges.

As a member of Merck's marketing team, Andrew License sees this firsthand. Over the last year, he developed stronger relationships with scientists while helping them express their distinct personalities at work. And he did it all using pins.

While pins seem like a small gesture, the additional flair can bring a smile to a fellow scientist. Or it can break the awkward introduction at a conference. For some scientists, it allows them to express their personalities and share their identities. Accessories include beakers and microscopes for those who want to show off their favorite lab equipment — some with a splash of glitter. A Sigma-Aldrich bottle is also a favorite so far — the distinctive red caps and white bottles now live on lanyards andlab shelves. Alongside science accessories, scientists often pair pins showcasing other hobbies — from favorite TV characters to books.

License started hearing from scientists on social media. They liked the pins he designed and loved wearing them at work. Seeing an opportunity to bring that self-expression even further, he started designing and distributing more pins, including identity-based ones, with his colleague Christina Finke. Some recent pins include Black History Month, Women in Science and Pride Month. He’s proud of all the designs so far, but Pride Month is his personal favorite, hands down. He’s incredibly proud to wear it and share it.

Two images – On the left, a gloved hand in a lab setting holds a pin that is a round bottom flask with rainbow colored “liquid” at the bottom of the flask. On the right, group of five scientists take a selfie in the lab. Four scientists in the foreground are wearing white lab coats and the individual on the far left wears glasses and has two pins on their lab coat. One has rainbow colors on the pin.

(L) A researcher holds up a Pride pin in the lab. (R) Scientists stand in the lab and show their Pride pin. Photo courtesy of Dr. Davide Ruggeri.

That’s because for him, the Pride pin is personal. License was, initially, hesitant to share his identity as a gay man with his colleagues. But he’s grateful he did. “At Merck, it's the first time in my professional life that I have not had to worry about who I am,” License says.

“[Identity-based] pins are one way that we, as a large company, can shout out and acknowledge that scientists have lives and identities outside of their labs” he says. “It’s incredibly rewarding when scientists reach out and say how proud they are to wear their Pride pin at work.”

In his day-to-day work, License continues to help scientists showcase their identities and connect with technologies and products that support their work. While it’s always nice to hear directly from scientists he supports, it’s extra special when he can connect with another member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Uplifting Diverse Voices

At Merck, we foster a culture where employees can bring their true selves to work. We are committed to promoting a strong sense of inclusion among our employees. Therefore, we approach Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) with the same purpose as our other global business objectives and aspirations. While we are proud to be a diverse organization – we currently span 66 countries and have over 64,000 employees from 139 nationalities – we recognize that our success depends on our ability to foster an environment that champions equity and inclusion.

One important way that Merck supports employees from diverse backgrounds and identities is through Employee Resource Groups. These groups connect employees with others who share similar backgrounds and beliefs and/or support their communities.

We work to showcase employees across our company, providing a space for them to share their perspectives and personal stories. Learn more about our commitment to DE&I.

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