A national spotlight has been turned on diversity in the U.S., in its communities, government policies and business. For example, in his recent State of the State message, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said, “We are one of the states with the greatest diversity, we grew up with the diversity. We grew up in communities where everybody was an immigrant. You want to deport immigrants? Immigration is bad? Deport me. I’m an immigrant. I’m the son of Mario, I’m the grandson of Andrea.”
Diversity also was a theme in Michelle Obama’s final public speech as first lady on Jan. 6. “Our glorious diversity, our diversity as the faiths and colors and creeds, that is not a threat to who we are – it makes us who we are,” she said.
The subject even came up when former CIA Director William Brennan testified at a Senate hearing: “Diversity not only gives us the cultural understanding we need to operate in any corner of the globe, it also helps us avoid group think, ensuring we bring to bear a range of perspectives on the complex challenges that are inherent to intelligence work.”
Internationally, the United Nations holds a world day for cultural diversity on May 21. Locally, diversity in business is being highlighted right now by the “Celebrating Diversity in Business” program produced by Westfair Communications Inc., in conjunction with Geneive Brown Metzger of ICA World. Westfair publishes the Westchester and Fairfield County Business Journals and WAG magazine.
Forty businesspeople who are deeply committed to the principles and practices of diversity will be honored at an event on April 4 at 1133 Westchester Ave. in White Plains. The 40 businesses have been declared “Diversity Champions.” Five are being selected as the “Final Five Champions.” Readers of Westfair’s publications submitted more than 40,000 votes to choose the final five. Voting took place from Dec. 19 through Feb. 13 on the Westfair website. The final five will be announced in the March 13 issues of the Business Journals.
Each of the “Diversity Champions” was nominated in one of the following categories: standard-bearer, most socially conscious, most promising millennial, outstanding entrepreneur and visionary.
Westfair Publisher Dee DelBello said, “The response to this event was overwhelming. This tells us that people are thinking, wanting and praising diversity in the workplace. I suppose we will have true diversity when we don’t have to think, want and praise it. In the meantime, we will strive for it and showcase it where and when it occurs. Our congratulations to all the champions and all of our journal readers and friends who participated in this effort.”
Brown Metzger of ICA World added, “The unprecedented number of persons who have voted is thrilling and noteworthy. I think it confirms that diversity is a very important aspect of our business culture.”
Greater Hudson Bank is one of two lead sponsors of the program. Anthony Pili, the bank’s vice president and director of strategic planning, said, “Greater Hudson Bank is a locally owned and growing community bank operating in the counties of Westchester, Rockland and Orange. We are proud to support the Celebrating Diversity in Business awards because we believe differences challenge assumptions and bring forth a variety of solutions to achieve a common goal. Partnering with Westfair Communications for this inaugural event and honoring one of our very own ambassadors, Fannie Aleman, as a diversity champion, has been a great opportunity to showcase our biggest competitive advantage – our people.”
The other lead sponsor is Stamford Health. Sal Mancino, the director of human resources, commented, “Stamford Health is a growing hospital and health care system and is increasingly the regional center providing high-quality care for all. With more than 2,700 employees that reside in Connecticut and New York, we believe that embracing diversity ignites excellence and we are proud to support the Celebrating Diversity initiative, which recognizes workplaces committed to reflecting the community they serve.”
In addition to the lead sponsors, supporting diversity advocates include Arch Street Communications, Caribbean Food Delights, Pullman & Comley LLC and Skanska USA Building Inc.
The April 4 evening event will open with The Marketplace featuring local vendors and businesses. For more information, call 914-358-0766, or go to westfaironline.com/celebratingdiversity.