Corporate Social Responsibility

Meet Cathy Council: New York Life’s Racial Equity fellow.

New York Life | November 4, 2020

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We’re excited to announce that as of October 1, Cathy Council is New York Life’s CEO Action for Racial Equity fellow1. Council was selected because she has demonstrated a passion for diversity and inclusion, both within New York Life and externally. She is a former co-chair of The Women’s Initiative Employee Resource Group and founded a non-profit organization, Present Future Foundation, that supports women advancing their professional careers. "We have an incredible opportunity to work beyond our 'walls' to advance diversity and inclusion, not just within corporate America, but more broadly across the country" says Ted Mathas, New York Life's Chairman and CEO.

Cathy council

"We have an incredible opportunity to work beyond our 'walls' to advance diversity and inclusion, not just within corporate America, but more broadly across the country"

- Ted Mathas, New York Life's Chairman and CEO

We met with Council to get her thoughts on and hopes for participating in this fellowship.

What does New York Life’s involvement in CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion mean to you?

I love that New York Life a not only a signatory, but that we were one of the founding companies to sign on. Our involvement with this from the start puts action behind our commitment to diversity and inclusion; it shows that we are an active participant in moving the needle on diversity and inclusion, not only within the company but outside of it as well. It also helps New York Life’s employees of diverse backgrounds really feel that New York Life cares about the topics of diversity and inclusion.

What are your thoughts on being New York Life’s CEO Action for Racial Equity fellow?

I’m really excited about it. I’m happy that I can continue to contribute and add value to New York Life, and having the opportunity to do so through this fellowship means a lot to me.

What do you hope the outcome will be of your CEO Action for Racial Equity fellowship?

I hope that the other fellows and I will work together to create policies at all levels of government–Federal, State, and Local—as well as corporate policies that all the signatory companies can implement in some fashion. I’m looking forward to gathering information from other companies, sharing information from New York Life, and that in the end we’ll have a forward-looking plan that continues to foster greater racial equality.

For the fellowship program to be successful, what do you think you and your fellow participants will need to prioritize?

We need to prioritize thinking holistically rather than individually. We can’t focus on what we as individuals or our own companies would benefit most from, rather we need to hone in on what would have the greatest societal impact. If that’s our priority, then I think we’re really approaching this fellowship the right way and we’ll have the greatest outcome.

1In 2017, New York Life’s Chairman and CEO Ted Mathas joined leading American business, academic, and non-profit leaders in founding CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion (CEO Action), the largest CEO-driven business commitment of its kind. By signing the pledge—which started with 150 companies and has now grown to over 1200—these leaders have committed to cultivating a workplace in which diverse perspectives and experiences are welcomed and respected, and employees feel comfortable and encouraged to discuss diversity and inclusion.

CEO Action is taking this commitment a step further by asking signatory companies to dedicate a full-time person to a new role, the CEO Action for Racial Equity fellowship. The fellowship gives all CEO Action signatories the opportunity to work together on identifying, developing, and promoting scalable and sustainable policies and corporate best practices addressing systemic racism and social injustice, and improving societal well-being.


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Media contact

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