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Champions Expanded Format Discusses Critical Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Issues

Honoring Blackstone, Citi, Etsy, Momentive

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, the New York Urban League was pleased to host our Champions Breakfast on April 5th at The Plaza with a new format. We wanted to create an opportunity for experts to speak specifically about some of the most poignant diversity, equity and inclusion issues. Cutting edge DEI professionals challenged current thinking, provided success models, and honestly spoke about what paths need to be forged ahead to create affirming workplaces. Topics included:

  • The Great Resignation

  • Corporate Responsibility: Beyond Statements and Hashtags

  • Leading While Black and Brown

The Great Resignation refers to voluntary actions of millions of "knowledgeable" as well as "front-line/essential workers." These people are leaving employers for lack of opportunities for advancement, feeling disrespected at work, and burnout. Compensation is listed as the final factor in employee decision-making. Ilene Lang, retired President & CEO of Catalyst, posed the question - is the Great Resignation a misnomer for the Great Re-evaluation, Great Reshuffling, Great Reckoning or even the Great Contagion? Panelists Maja D. Hazell, DE Shaw; Philippe Krakowsky, Interpublic; and Katrina Jones, Advancing Equity + Inclusion shared their insights on the Great Resignation and how corporations must adjust to maintain their workforce.

Panel Topic: The Great Resignation. Moderator: Ilene H. Lang, Retired President & CEO and Honorary Director, Catalyst, Maja D. Hazell, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P., Katrina Jones, Founder and CEO of Advancing Equity + Inclusion, Philippe Krakowsky, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Egon Zehnder

Kathy Wylde facilitated the panel discussion Beyond the Hashtag: Corporate Responsibility. Panelists Diahann Billings-Burford, RISE, Adrianne C Smith, Fleishman, Corey Smith, LVMH and Alicin Williamson, Yahoo shared how their corporations have responded to the racial awakening. They also provided valuable insight on the challenges facilitating DEI strategies externally and internally.

Panel Topic: Leading While Black and Brown.
Panel Topic: Corporate Responsibility: Beyond Statements and Hashtags. Moderator: Erika Irish Brown, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Citi, S. Mitra Kalita, CEO & Co-Founder, URL Media Holdings, Clint Odom, VP of Strategic Alliances and External Affairs, T-Mobile, Corey Smith, VP of Diversity & Inclusion, LVMH North America, Lauren Wesley Wilson, CEO & Founder, ColorComm

Finally NYUL CEO Arva Rice facilitated a conversation on the risk and rewards of Leading While Black. Erika Irish Brown, Citi; Michelle Gadsden-Williams, Blackrock; S. Mitra Kalita, URL Media; Clint Odom, T-Mobile, and Lauren Wesley, ColorComm provided strategies for corporations looking to recruit and retain black talent as well as honest advice for Black talent struggling in their workplaces.

Panel Topic: Corporate Responsibility: Beyond Statements and Hashtags.
Panel Topic: Leading While Black and Brown. Moderator: Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City, Diahann Billings-Burford, CEO, RISE, Adrianne Smith, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Fleishman Hillard, Alicin Williamson, Chief Inclusion Officer, Endeavor

Following the panels, we were thrilled to honor corporations who have developed robust supplier diversity programs, created platforms for women and minority business owners to sell their wares and created strategies to recruit, retain and promote Blacks in finance and investing. Congratulations to our honorees: Blackstone, Citi, Etsy, Momentive and Rising Stars Tara Ataya of Hootsuite and Romola Ratnam of Endeavor, and thanks again to our jury for reviewing award nominations.

It was an incredible event punctuated by rich, honest conversation that the New York Urban League was pleased to curate. "I was extremely proud to Chair this signature event. Our panelists' insights and candor, and our moderators’ creating the container for authentic conversations, drove the success of the symposium. As an organization deeply committed to equity and belonging, it is fitting that New York Urban League accelerates its ability to serve as a convener in the DEI space. In addition to the Champions Breakfast, through the Diversity and Inclusion Lab and in each of our programs, we continue to bring people together to help dismantle systemic oppression in support of the advancement of Black and brown people." Maja Hazell, NYUL Executive Committee Member and Event Chair.

Recordings from the day will be made available, and we will also produce and share a keynote by Deborah Archer, President of American Civil Liberties Union and Professor at NYU School of Law, who unfortunately was unable to be with us. ####

L to R - Honorees - Antoine Andrews, Momentive; Michelle Thornhill, Citi; Melissa Murray Bailey accepting for Tara Ataya, Hootsuite; and Jack Pitts, Blackstone Toni Thompson (Etsy) not pictured, Romola Ratman, Endeaver (not pictured)

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