In recognition of our Foundation formalizing social justice as a focus area and in celebration of a twenty year relationship with Profiles in Diversity Journal (PDJ) sat down with Heather Nesle, the president of the New York Life Foundation, to discuss the addition of this new pillar.

Here are a few highlights from the interview:

PDJ: How does the Foundation define social justice? What’s the problem you’re looking to solve?

Heather Nesle: For us, social justice involves working with organizations that advocate for equal rights and access across all populations, especially the historically overlooked communities that we’ve been targeting through our grantmaking efforts. We’ve been drawn to legal defense organizations that champion equal rights, access to information, advocacy work and are looking to educate and effect change within the confines of the law. That’s what helps shape and start to define that larger social justice pillar.

We also look for ideas on how to engage in this space from our own employees, agents and policy owners to deeply consider what we’re doing and how we’re influencing equal rights for women, communities of color, individuals with disabilities and those who are LGBTQ+.

Racial equity, more specifically creating generational wealth, is a focus for the company and has been for quite some time. From a philanthropic standpoint, we can try to make investments that will help to close the large demographic gap in generational wealth. New York Life has an opportunity based on our products and services to help start to shrink that gap. We have one of the most diverse field forces in the industry that can provide trusted guidance about financial strategies at an early age as well as how life insurance can support future generations.

"As with everything we do, we’ll approach this space in a way that is authentic to New York Life and to our Foundation. I hope that we meet new engaging, innovative partners that we can support along the way, and I expect like with our other established pillars, this pillar will become an all-encompassing focus for us."—Heather Nesle, President of the New York Life Foundation.

PDJ: What do you hope to learn by creating this pillar and partnering with organizations to support racial equity? What do you hope others learn from the Foundation from doing this work?

Heather Nesle: As with everything we do, we’ll approach this space in a way that is authentic to New York Life and to our Foundation. I hope that we meet new engaging, innovative partners that we can support along the way, and I expect like with our other established pillars, this pillar will become an all-encompassing focus for us.

This way we can continue to utilize all New York Life resources, to create sustainable and scalable solutions to often overlooked issues that disproportionately affect underserved communities. There’s a lot that can be accomplished here, and we’re excited to learn from and partner with others and make a real difference.

Read the rest of the interview with Heather here [page 22]. 

You can read more about the New York Life Foundation’s social justice efforts here and find out about New York Life initiatives related to DE&I and social justice, including the company’s $1 billion impact investment initiative to help address the racial wealth gap hereNew York Life’s 2021 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Report can be found here.


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Media contact
Lacey Siegel
New York Life Insurance Company
(212) 576-7937
Lacey_S_Siegel@newyorklife.com

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