Corporate Social Responsibility

An update from Cathy Council on the CEO Action for Racial Equity fellowship.

New York Life | July 13, 2021

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Cathy Council has been New York Life’s CEO Action for Racial Equity fellow since October 2020, working with fellows from other CEO Action signatory companies to identify, develop, and promote scalable and sustainable policies and corporate best practices addressing systemic racism and social injustice, and improve societal well-being.

The CEO Action for Racial Equity's agenda focuses on addressing eight major issues:

1. Closing the Digital Divide.
2. Racism: A Public Health Crisis
3. Advancing a National Policing Misconduct Registry
4. Expanding Access to Telehealth
5. A Path Toward Greater Food Equity
6. Equity and Excellence in Childhood Education
7. Decriminalizing Poverty: Fines, Fees, and Cash Bail
8. Expanding Economic Opportunity Through CDFIs.

The issues we’re addressing have a direct impact on access to opportunity and well-being for Black Americans nationwide."

—Cathy Council, CEO Action for Racial Equity fellow.

Cathy council

Similar to New York Life’s Social Justice Working Group, the CEO Action for Racial Equity fellowship has reached a milestone as they move from the ideation to implementation phase. The above eight ideas that the fellows will be working to implement at the government level and across corporate America.

You can learn more about the above eight ideas and how CEO Action for Racial Equity plans to tackle them here.

While the eight ideas above are related to policy, there are also three ideas moving into the implementation phase around:

  1. Social Contracts: Corporate Engagement with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs);
  2. Business Diversity; and
  3. Jobs upon Re-entry for those who have formerly been incarcerated.

Council will be working on the Corporate Engagement with HBCUs idea, as well as serving on our Stakeholder Engagement Committee to communicate to key stakeholders about the fellowship and their efforts moving forward.

“It’s been great connecting with Cathy over the last several months to hear how the fellowship plans to advance racial equity and social justice,” says Chairman and CEO Ted Mathas. “As a CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion signatory, I look forward to seeing the impact of these efforts as companies from across industries come together to collectively make a difference in society.”

We asked Council to answer some questions about what being part of the fellowship has been like so far.

How has the fellowship met the expectations you described back in October?

I had said that thinking holistically rather than individually would get us where we needed to be, and I think that’s just what happened. The issues we’re addressing have a direct impact on access to opportunity and well-being for Black Americans nationwide, and require cross-sector collaborating, deeper investment from corporate America, and urgent policy change. These are broad issues that we’re tackling as we move into the implementation phase, and we addressed these issues by thinking about what would have the greatest impact on society as a whole.

Have you found any similarities between the work you’re doing with the fellowship and the work that New York Life does in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) and social justice space?

I was so glad to find out that while I’ll be working on the fellowship’s idea around Corporate Engagement with HBCUs, New York Life is increasing our engagement with HBCUs! I’m looking forward to bringing the fellowship’s ideas for implementation to New York Life, and sharing what New York Life is doing with those on my team in the fellowship. Additionally, at New York Life we’re all about supporting people in the communities where we live and work, and similarly with the ideas being implemented by the fellowship we plan to take a local approach.


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Media contact

Lacey Siegel
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-7937