How New York Life joined LBJ in support of Equal Employment Opportunity.

We were the first insurance company to join LBJ’s Plans for Progress initiative.


Above photo: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others look on.

New York Life | February 6, 2023

On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into the law the Civil Rights Act — one of the most significant pieces of legislation in the history of the United States. After two centuries of legal inequality, the Civil Rights Act outlawed any discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. (Sexual orientation and gender identity would later be added). The wide-ranging law prohibited racial segregation in schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal.

New York Life supported the Civil Rights Act at the time and was an advocate for equal opportunity. In February 1964, then New York Life CEO Richard Paynter gave a speech in which he urged his New York Life colleagues to consider how to incorporate into “our America those whom we know to be fellow citizens and, like ourselves, God’s children.”

In April 1964, New York Life became the first insurance company to join Plans for Progress, a federal initiative under the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, designed to open up more economic advancement opportunities for minorities.

We recently uncovered the original 1964 “Plans for Progress” document, which is signed by Paynter, then New York Life President Dudley Dowell, and President Lyndon B. Johnson. The document formalizes and outlines our company’s program “to further assure that it is providing fair employment opportunities without regard to race, creed, color or national origin.”

See images of the document here.

Learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion at New York Life here.


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Media contact

Kevin Maher
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-7937