Credit: GERALD PEART photo

The New York Urban League recognizes companies and respected leaders who have exemplary diversity practices in the areas of leadership, hiring and promotion, supplier diversity and philanthropy at its 15th annual Champions of Diversity Awards Breakfast. The COD Awards Breakfast took place at The Plaza in Manhattan Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. With Darlene Rodriguez of WNBC as MC, the NYUL proudly honored corporate honorees Colgate-Palmolive, and TD Bank and Wendy Lewis, global chief diversity officer and VP global community engagement, McDonald’s Corp. Corporate sponsors of the 2018 COD Awards Breakfast included Entergy, founding chair and Legacy sponsor TD Bank, McDonald’s and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

In recognition of the 15th anniversary of this award, the breakfast featured a CEO roundtable discussion. Greg Braca, president and CEO of TD Bank, Philippe Krakowsky, chairman of IPG Mediabrands and Keith Mestrich, president and CEO of Amalgamated Bank participated in this dynamic discussion. The conversation included best practices, moments when the CEOs found that diversity mattered and how they have educated and learned from the boards. The enlightening conversation was facilitated by Lewis.

More than 200 guests joined in to celebrate diversity in local government and Corporate America. In attendance were the Hon. Scott Stringer, New York City comptroller, and the Hon. Tish James, New York City public advocate, both of whom brought greetings to our guests. Other honorable guests and speakers included honorary chair, Nina Mitchell Wells, Braca, Krakowsky, Mestrich, Cy Richardson, senior vice president, National Urban League and S. Jeanine Conley, NYUL’s board chair and partner Littler Mendelson.

The NYUL was pleased to present Braca with his corporation’s Champions of Diversity Award for their commitment to their exemplary diversity practices. “I want to thank the New York Urban League for honoring TD Bank, America’s most convenient bank, with a Champion of Diversity Award,” said Braca. “Every day, we are committed to building a safe and productive work environment where every individual feels valued. It’s truly an honor to be among so many great companies with that same level of commitment.” 

Most recently TD Bank pledged $10 million to the NYC-managed Emerging Developer Loan Fund, joining Amalgamated and Bank of America, to help more women- and minority-owned businesses have access to critical capital. This year, the NYUL honored Lewis, an individual whose efforts are setting the pace for supplier diversity in corporate board rooms and sports. As global chief diversity officer at McDonald’s, Lewis oversees the development and implementation of diversity and inclusion strategies and community engagement. Previously at Major League Baseball, Lewis oversaw MLB’s Executive Development Program and the Diverse Business Partners Program, the premier supplier diversity program in sports.

“This award exemplifies the importance and impact of the work that I feel blessed and privileged to do,” said Lewis. “Serving two world-class brands that drive economic impact within diverse communities, formerly Major League Baseball and now McDonald’s, is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

The NYUL also bestowed three Champions of Diversity Awards for Exemplary Best Practices. Individuals and their companies who are presented with this award have recognized that diversity is not a one-time hire or creation of affinity groups, but a daily commitment to inclusive best practices. L’Oreal USA, Major League Baseball and Mount Sinai Health System were honored for continuing to champion the cause of diversity, and for their ability to respond to issues of gender and race in real time. Eugene Kelly, vice president, Global Diversity & Inclusion, accepted the Champions of Diversity Award for Colgate-Palmolive. Colgate-Palmolive’s diversity commitment extends to their people working in more than 80 countries providing oral care, personal care, home care and pet nutrition to 200 countries and territories.

The NYUL was pleased to salute Colgate for its commitment to maintaining an environment that celebrates differences and provides opportunities for personal and professional development, supplier diversity, multicultural marketing and community involvement. To be considered for a Champions of Diversity award, individuals and companies must complete a confidential survey and are evaluated by a corporate panel of former honorees. “Our honorees share a common mission—to create and sustain a corporate culture that is open and inclusive,” said NYUL president and CEO, Arva R. Rice. “By effectively integrating best diversity practices into their hiring, promotion, supplier relations and philanthropic activities, each honoree has enhanced their competitiveness and has achieved market leadership and recognition in their respective fields.”

The NYUL established the Champions of Diversity Award in 2004, inspired by Corporate America’s outpouring of support for the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the basic principles of affirmative action. The COD Awards Breakfast is a fundraising benefit, the proceeds of which enable the NYUL to fulfill its mission of providing programs and initiatives in the areas of education and employment for African-Americans and other under-served groups.

For more information about the Annual Champions of Diversity Awards Breakfast or other NYUL programs, visit http://www.nyul.org.