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Serving the communities our agents and employees live and work in is at the core of New York Life’s mission to provide financial security and peace of mind. New York Life has worked to achieve that mission by recruiting and developing the most diverse field force of financial professionals in our industry.
Today, half of our nearly 12,000 financial professionals affiliate with one of our six Cultural Markets, which provide resources and support to help these individuals meet the financial protection needs of their clients in African American, Latino, Chinese, South Asian, Korean, and Vietnamese communities across the country. That’s a 38% increase in our number of Cultural Market agents over the past 10 years. During that same span, our number of women financial professionals has also risen nearly 35%.
“The tapestry of different cultural backgrounds that make up our field force has become the backbone of New York Life and helps us as an organization to reflect the culture, heritage, and values of the communities each of these individuals serves,” says Mark Madgett, Executive Vice President and Co-Head of the Foundational Business and BOLD Executive Sponsor. “The commitments our agents and advisors have to their communities and the financial well-being of their clients are the embodiment of New York Life’s core values of acting with humanity and integrity.”
Cultural Ambassador Program
In 2021, New York Life took another step to live those core values meaningfully with the formation of a new DE&I division that is focused on our agents and those who support them. The Agency DE&I team is tasked with helping our 116 General Offices across the country foster a culture of inclusion, expand their collective cultural competency, and create greater impact in their local communities. The initial work underway in this division was largely informed by the input from agents who volunteered to serve on our Social Justice and Engagement Agent Task Force, a 12-member advisory group comprised of representatives from our African American Market Unit. The task force formed in the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd.
“The task force’s work was more than a moment. Their work helped create a movement in the field,” says Eric Jackson, Vice President, Agency DE&I and BOLD member. “We’ve made progress, and we’re not going to slow down.”
Agency DE&I’s first major initiative took shape in 2022 with the creation and rollout of a Cultural Ambassador Program, which is being piloted in several field offices across the country. The goal of the program is to strengthen cultural competency and advocacy for inclusion and belonging in New York Life’s more than 100 General Offices across the country by appointing individuals in each office who will advance company DE&I objectives on a local level. New York Life’s inaugural group of Cultural Ambassadors convened in Frisco, Texas, in October 2022 to learn and grow with peers, and improve their knowledge and understanding of foundational DE&I concepts. “New York Life is leading the charge in this area,” says Wendy Edwards, a 34-year agent from Long Island, N.Y., who served on the Social Justice and Engagement Agent Task Force and is now a Cultural Ambassador. “Together with our Cultural Ambassadors, New York Life is laying the groundwork for continued growth in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion within our field force and the communities we serve,” Jackson says. “This work is another example of New York Life's culture of equity and inclusion for all our field agents, managers, and employees.”
The impact of our diversity
For more than 25 years, New York Life’s Cultural Markets division has been focused on meeting the financial protection needs of historically underserved markets, including the African American, Chinese, Korean, Latino, South Asian, and Vietnamese communities. With each passing year, the impact of our agents who serve these communities continues to grow. In 2022, agents who represent our six Cultural Markets have:
A gratifying and career-affirming experience
Melanie White Terry, CLTC, is a New York Life agent affiliated with our Greater Washington Office. Here, she speaks about serving on the Social Justice and Engagement Agent Task Force.
“In my 20 years with New York Life, I have never questioned if I am with the right company. My experience as part of our Social Justice and Engagement Agent Task Force only served to compound my sentiment exponentially.
"Serving in this capacity was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. It is a beautiful thing to see the collective effort of so many across all areas of the company come together to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in a meaningful and lasting way. This is proof that when our diverse backgrounds, experiences, and talents work together for a common good, an impactful output is the result.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for my fellow task force members, and I applaud New York Life’s leadership for organizing such a group of talented, passionate people. What we have accomplished collectively is nothing short of amazing in my eyes.
"As a task force, we were encouraged to be bold. We were made to feel we were in a safe space to speak freely, which was needed to effect change and to make progress. The company moved swiftly to address many of the areas we felt were most urgent to address. The impact of our collective work, I believe, is the model for the industry. I am especially looking forward to seeing the impact the Cultural Ambassador Program will have in every office. It will bring all agents and employees the enduring support they need on the ground level.
"Our shared vision of a diverse and equitable workforce and community makes for a company that can move mountains!”
Watch a video and read some inspiring testimonials of some of New York Life's Cultural Ambassadors — Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in action.
New York Life Insurance Company
1Based on life insurance policies placed by agents affiliated with one of New York Life’s Cultural Markets in 2022.
2Based on the face amount of life insurance policies sold by agents affiliated with one of New York Life’s Cultural Markets as of November 30, 2022.