Michael I. Roth, Tig Gilliam, Dwight Johnson, Arva Rice, Marilyn Booker,, Michael Robinson, Anthony P. Carter, Ed Goldberg

*Back in 2004, the New York Urban League (NYUL) established what has become one of its signature events, the Champions of Diversity awards, as a result of the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the basic principles of affirmative action.  The League’s support was also buoyed by corporate America’s interest in this powerful issue.

Under the banner of Champions of Diversity awards breakfast, NYUL salutes companies that understand the need for diversity in the job market. These companies embrace diversity to its fullest potential and truly understand to succeed in today’s competitive market; diversity must be reflected in every aspect of the workplace.

Corporate leadership, employment policy, supplier relations and corporate giving are held as a fundamental tenet of the organization’s philosophy.  “We hope by paying tribute to the accomplishments of our annual honorees we can raise the diversity bar not only in for profit sector but not-for-profit organizations as well,” stated NYUL’s pert and pretty president and CEO Arva R. Rice.

The 8th annual Champions of Diversity awards breakfast that took place at the tony Four Seasons Restaurant on Monday, February 7, 2011 from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.  Rice was joined by NYUL’s chairman of the board Michael Robinson in presenting the awards to this year’s deserving companies: Adecco Group North America, Interpublic Group, Johnson & Johnson and Macy’s, Inc.

Accepting the triumphant awards on behalf of their companies were: Michael I. Roth, chairman & CEO, Interpublic Group; Tig Gilliam, CEO, Adecco Group North America; Anthony P. Carter, vice president, global diversity & inclusion, and chief diversity officer, Johnson & Johnson; and Ed Goldberg, senior vice president of external affairs, Macy’s Inc.

“I must applaud this year’s award recipients for upholding diversity as a fundamental tenet of their corporate philosophy,” remarked Rice.  “As you have already discovered, diverse workplaces produce more dynamic corporations better capable of serving a more global clientele in an ever-changing marketplace.  Our nation’s competitiveness in the 21st century depends upon it.”

Former New Jersey Governor and Senator Jon S. Corzine, chairman and CEO MF Global Holdings Ltd. was the keynote speaker.  In his powerful address Corzine remarked, “I am a true believer that diversity is not only a concept to talk about … but that it works.”

This breakfast was a great way to start off your day leaving guests with lots of food for thought.  Dwight Johnson of Dwight Johnson Design was the committee chair and organized the prize-winning event.  Darlene Rodriguez, co-anchor of “Today in New York” on WNBC-TV, served as Mistress of Ceremonies.

Hon. David N. Dinkins and his bride, Joyce Dinkins, served as honorary chairs.  NYUL’s vice chair Marilyn F. Booker, managing director, head of office of corporate engagement, Morgan Stanley, served as breakfast chair.  Kenneth Theobalds, vice president, governmental affairs, Entergy Nuclear, served as founding chair.  Corporate Sponsors included Adecco Group North America, Interpublic Group, Johnson & Johnson and Morgan Stanley.

The breakfast attracted many corporate champions who have triumphed over diversity in their workplaces.  Attendees were presented with fabulous swag bags filled with things champions are made of.  However, the awesome gift bags were second to what they were saying about Rice and the great job she’s doing at the League.

The New York Urban League was founded by a group of prominent New Yorkers concerned with the poor state of blacks migrating to New York City from the south.  From its inception it provided employment and connections for migrating blacks bridging the adjustment from the agricultural/rural life to the industrial urban center.  (Photo by Gerald Peart)

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.