New York Life, a 2022 Best Company for Multicultural Women, understands the value that women and women of color bring to the table within their organization and wants their workforce to reflect the communities in which they serve. From mentorship programs to leadership development initiatives to external partnerships specifically for people of color, New York Life places a true emphasis on the hiring and advancement of women of color. We recently sat down with them to learn which of their programs and initiatives help multicultural women thrive at their organization and future plans to help women of color progress even more.
1. What programs and initiatives (mentorship, sponsorship, or an ERG, for example) have helped propel women of color at your company to success? Why have they, specifically, been so successful?
- New York Life has seven Employee Resource Groups that are open for participation by all employees. In particular, the Asian Pacific Circle (APC), BOLD (Black Organization for Leadership and Development), LEAD (Latinos for Excellence, Advancement, and Development), and The Women’s Initiative focus on people of color and women. By participating in these groups, all employees, including women of color, have the opportunity to network, participate in development events, and volunteer for the group’s leadership teams to further their leadership skills. All Employee Resource Group members have the opportunity to participate in the Empower Mentorship Program,a one-year program that provides the opportunity for members to act as mentors and mentees, using technology to match participants and provide mentorship resources. Additionally, and notably, The Women’s Initiative offers two development programs for members:
- Peer Leadership Circles: Groups of peers are created and provided with a suggested schedule of peer mentoring topics to discuss over several months. The groups also have access to a pool of senior leaders who attend group sessions and provide career advice and insights.
- Leadership Development Initiative: A multifaceted self-development program split into three modules, which are designed to promote leadership through presence, voice, and power.
- External partnerships with development programs for employees of color and women:
- Ascend: The largest nonprofit Pan-Asian organization for business professionals in North America. Through membership provided by New York Life, employees have access to robust professional development and career enhancement programs designed to cultivate Pan-Asian talent.
- Association of Latino Professionals for America: ALPFA aspires to be the business partner of choice for companies seeking to hire and develop Latino talent. Through membership provided by New York Life, ALPFA offers networking and professional leadership development opportunities.
- Ellevate: New York Life provides employees with membership to Ellevate, the largest community of women at work and a powerful coalition of ambitious and supportive women who believe there is strength in numbers.
- Financial Women’s Association: The organization, which New York Life provides membership to, is dedicated to developing future leaders, enhancing the role of women in finance, and investing in the community.
- National African American Insurance Association: New York Life employees have access to membership in this organization, which is dedicated to empowering African American insurance professionals as well as celebrating their accomplishments.
- Women Unlimited: An external development program for women, including:
- IMPOWER: A 6-month external program that prepares early-career women to contribute to corporate goals and objectives. It focuses on ways for women to “own” their careers, develop smart relationships, build their confidence, bolster their organization-wide impact, and espouse change and innovation.
- LEAD: A 12-month external development program that focuses on developing strategic alliances, thinking globally, successful risk-taking strategies, and managing change. It includes 12 sessions, on-the-job assignments, one-on-one and team mentoring by leading corporate executives, an IDP process, and networking/team-building exercises.
- FEW: A 12-session external executive leadership program that helps senior women continually increase their contributions to corporate success while fine-tuning their high-level executive skills. Focuses on advanced strategies for executive leadership development, dealing with the current complex global environment, and forging and retaining strategic alliances.
2. What programs and initiatives have helped retain women of color successfully? Why have they, specifically, been so successful?
- Related specifically to retaining women of color, we have two programs in place:
- Amplify is an 8-month development program for people of color at the Officer level. Participants have the opportunity to develop and hone their leadership skills with emphasis on communicating, influencing, and demonstrating confidence in taking effective action through an enhanced understanding of their own capabilities as leaders. The program embeds a foundational set of core capabilities upon which the program participants can continue to build.
- Building My Career at New York Life is a 3-month program for diverse Senior Associates that provides participants with an opportunity to explore career development through understanding their strengths, one-on-one coaching, instructor-led modules, and individual development planning in partnership with managers.
3. Why is it so important to support women of color within your company?
- It’s crucial to hire, develop, and retain women of color so that our workforce represents the communities that we serve. By bringing together different perspectives and creating a more innovative environment, we achieve better outcomes. Developing women of color to grow into executive positions helps to elevate New York Life. These women act as mentors and role models and are an inspiration to others. For example, when younger and less experienced women are considering New York Life as an employer, they see themselves reflected in the company’s leadership and see the possibility for them to grow their career here as well. Supporting women of color helps create a pipeline of women of color and a cycle of women being hired, developed, and promoted.
4. What percentage of employees at your firm are women of color, and how has that changed over time?
- As of June 2022, 26% of New York Life employees are women of color. This is a 5% increase since 2014.
5. How has your company as a whole improved by helping more women of color progress from within?
- By having diverse employees, including women of color, bring their authentic selves to work each day, everyone gains new perspectives and new opportunities arise. When we are the best versions of ourselves, we are best able to serve our customers. The professional growth of New York Life’s diverse team continues to be central to our ability to serve the needs of diverse communities in the cities and towns in which we live and work.
6. What are some future initiatives that you plan to implement to further help women of color progress?
- We plan to expand the Building My Career at New York Life program that was discussed in response to Question 2 to include additional levels. This will give all diverse employees who are just starting out in their careers, including women of color, the opportunity to participate in a meaningful development program and work in partnership with peers, a coach, and their manager to build an individual development plan for future growth and success.
- We are rolling out a program for ERG members, including women of color, to participate in an assessment that identifies their strengths, in order to better leverage them both personally and professionally. Once a coach discusses the strengths assessment results with the ERG members, the ERG members are encouraged to discuss the results with their managers in order to determine how they can best use their strengths in their role and beyond.
- Additionally, a development program for diverse Appointive Officers is being developed to support diverse Officers, including women of color, at a more individual level and complement our cohort-based leadership development programs.