Buoyed by the tangible business success of having made a targeted effort to cultivate a diverse workforce, New York Life is looking to up the ante even further, and this year, plans to hire 3,500 financial professionals, half of which will be women or individuals who represent different cultural markets.
There’s nothing new about New York Life’s focus on diversity, says Jane Conti, vice president of cultural markets at the firm, but having a truly diversified work force has become that much more important today than it was even last year, given the rapid changes in demographics and the evident influence, both political as well as financial, that many minorities (women included) now wield.
“All of the communities we focus on are projected for growth in income, in the number of professionals, in the number of second-generation community members coming to the U.S. when they’re very young and in the number of those who are born here but still carry some of the characteristics and traits of their original markets as they assimilate here,” Conti says.
In 2012, 62% of New York Life’s new hires in the field were women or individuals who represent the cultural markets. That number should be replicated, if not topped this year, Conti says, as New York Life continues its long commitment to hiring and supporting women and individuals serving, among others, the African-American, Chinese, Hispanic, Korean, South Asian and Vietnamese markets.
But Conti believes that the resources New York Life provides to its many agents working in the field among different communities is just as important as the outreach work the agents do.
Providing agents with detailed understanding of different communities as well giving them the tools they need to work in those communities is very important, she says, and increasing its body of knowledge on various groups so that agents can keep up to speed with the cultural makeup of different communities and what they need is a key priority for New York Life.
The company has an extensive array of materials that agents working in the field can draw upon.
“We have materials in different languages such as Chinese, and we never do a direct translation from English because we take semantics into account,” Conti says. “We have culturally relevant materials and we realize that some countries may not even have insurance so we provide materials that can give a deeper level of education. Branding and advertising in different communities, and of course, giving back to communities, are also very important to us.”
The more agents there are working in the field, the more they know how different communities are evolving and how their needs are changing. “Our agents come back and report to us, keeping us informed of what they need,” Conti says. “At the end of the day, to really serve diverse market segments you have to attract financial professionals that will go into different communities and you have to also make sure that they have the best support possible in order for them to be successful.”