By Kathleen Navarro, Head of Talent Management & Chief Diversity Officer, HR, New York Life
Now more than ever, we need to come together. I’ve heard these words replayed throughout the course of 2020, and while they ring true, being intentional about what that truly means is where the real work has to be done. That’s our mission at New York Life and uniting across our people, customers, and communities is the cornerstone for charting our path. We need each other.
Our Coming Together Series that launched in 2016 is an example of that focus and intention, with the inaugural session bringing together employees to engage in a first-time, company-sponsored discussion on race relations. We’ve held 30 courageous conversations exploring topics intersecting race and the communities we live in, and through these sessions, employees drive connections and understanding with each other, leading to a more inclusive workplace.
Fast forward to 2020, the same issues that were the impetus for creating the Coming Together Series have brought the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), systemic racism, and social justice to the forefront of conversations at our company, across our country and around the world. While we’ve built a DEI program based on strong community partnerships, inclusion and belonging, the transparency of our company’s history, the value of bringing your authentic self to work, and more, we have further to go.
In response to the immeasurable stress of the pandemic, a rapid shift to completely virtual operations and the call for racial justice that spread across the globe, our Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) and our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) focused on the needs and support of our employees – providing opportunities to share challenges, discuss complexities, and work together to strengthen our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives now, and moving forward.
As New York Life Insurance Company Chairman and CEO Ted Mathas wrote after the killing of George Floyd, “We are a company where racism has no place, with an unwavering commitment to a culture of inclusion and equality. When events like this occur, it must strengthen our resolve to model behaviors and actions expected of a corporate citizen serving and influencing millions of Americans.”
Mobilizing the next phase of our social justice work is underway and aims to achieve that mandate, while furthering our long-term commitment to equity and justice:
- New York Life’s Social Justice Steering Committee is charged with advancing the company’s social and racial equity efforts and making meaningful progress on longstanding and deeply ingrained racial issues within the broader communities in which we live and work.
- Our Social Justice Working Group, composed of employee appointees from throughout the company, is assessing current programs and initiatives, and proposing corporate social justice-related activities and workplace practices.
- Our employee training efforts are expanding to address the topics that align with what we believe in and with how we act.
- Our company has built an industry-leading team of financial professionals who are focused on changing the financial future of Black America by helping to create financial stability, economic opportunity, and multigenerational wealth. Their purpose is to provide financial education, resources and tools to help close the racial wealth gap and support the community in creating billions of dollars in life insurance protection and future income.
“Coming together” means that the journey we’re on will not only inform our DEI program, but it will continue to transcend into every facet of our business strategy for decades to come. At New York Life and as a mutual company, we seek the changes and progress that meet the needs of our communities and all whom we serve. It is who we’ve been. It is who we are. It is who we’ll continue to be.