The New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) and New Jersey Business Magazine are proud to honor four companies, two business associations, an institution of higher education, and a non-profit organization with our third annual NJ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award. Alexena Consulting, Fisk Alloy, M&T Bank, the Newark Regional Business Partnership, the New Jersey Society of CPAs, Spano Family Charitable Foundation, Inc., UPS and Thomas Edison State University are all being recognized for their commitment to DEI initiatives throughout their respective organizations.
These selected entities realize that the workforce has changed; that DEI initiatives today are moving families, society, culture and businesses forward. On the following pages, we salute those businesses and organizations that have made strides in giving opportunity to all. Please enjoy the respective company profiles below.
Jackie Lue Raia, President
ALEXENA Consulting, LLC specializes in employee engagement and development. As a certified Minority/Women Business Enterprise, the firm’s goal is to ensure the creation of the strongest, most engaged and satisfied workforce possible. This is accomplished by creating a professional environment that is empathetic, nurturing, engaging and safe.
Alexena Consulting prides itself on the formulation and delivery of highly customized Diversity and Inclusion workshops across numerous sectors, including banking, education, healthcare, military, not-for-profit, technology and transportation audiences. In partnership with its clients, the firm identifies specific needs, resources and goals to create unique programming that promotes an environment of sustainable engagement and belonging. Programming can be delivered both virtually, in person or hybrid.
President Jackie Lue Raia proudly represents the Leadership Committee of NJBIA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council.’
Eric Fisk, CEO
Fisk Alloy is proud of its diverse and inclusive environment, in which each individual’s unique qualities are celebrated and valued. Within a total workforce of 183 employees, 39 countries are represented by employees who are foreign born. The Hawthorne-based company embraces diversity, providing fertile ground for ideas and talents to unfold, and, paired with hard work, the results are world-class products that make a difference. For almost five decades, the company has produced specialty wire for the aerospace, automotive, defense, medical and electronic industries. Fisk’s focused outreach efforts to attract diversified talent include an Employee Referral program, social media, third-party sourcing, the company website, and local on premises applicants. These efforts prove that the company’s collective commitment to diversity and continuous learning results in a team that successfully innovates ideas and solutions for specialty engineered wire copper alloy products used around the world.
René F. Jones, Chief Executive Officer
M&T Bank is dedicated to supporting and empowering the diverse communities it serves. With 118 multicultural banking centers, M&T offers financial services in customers’ preferred languages and employs bankers from the branches’ respective neighborhoods who understand their communities’ cultural nuances. The bank helped launch the NJ BEST Patient Capital Fund, which will help Black entrepreneurs recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic through the Rutgers Business School’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CUEED), and supports 21 Plus, which provides opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. M&T is also committed to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace, offering Employee Resource Groups, as well as a Diversity & Inclusion Council to oversee the bank’s D&I initiatives. M&T has been a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ employees four years running, and Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion for three years.
Ralph Albert Thomas, CEO & Executive Director
The New Jersey Society of CPAs advocates for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at the professional, student and community levels – recognizing that only by working with all facets of society can real change occur. For the NJCPA, DEI is both a business principle and practice as it regularly promotes the benefits of open and diverse boards, director and manager hires as well as staff and interns at accounting firms and businesses. The Roseland-based association supports DEI on its board, committees and task forces as well as honors DEI champions with Ovation Awards. It routinely collaborates with other state and national organizations to effect change in New Jersey’s accounting profession. Through its Scholarship Fund and Career Awareness program, the NJCPA connects with underrepresented high schools, community colleges and other institutions, including a new minority scholarship program that was piloted this year with funding from Deloitte.
Maya Curry, VP – Communications & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
NRBP is connecting business for a greater Newark and helping them recognize the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. “DEI makes a difference in every metric of a company. The diversity of thought contributes to a better bottom line; employees are happier and more loyal,” says NRBP’s EVP/COO, Barbara E. Kauffman. NRBP provides a range of DEI focused programming and resources. Nearly 1,000 participants have engaged in training, workshops, Intercultural Lunches, and more. Additionally, NRBP has strengthened its program offerings by ensuring that equity is a consistent point of conversation. “Learning about the needs of our members via surveys, focus groups and one-on-one discussions, and partnering with other organizations, has enabled us to provide valuable resources and information via our programming and communications. We hope this creates lasting changes in attitudes and business practices,” says NRBP’s Communications and DEI VP, Maya Curry.
Jim Spano & Joe Spano, Managing Partners
The Spano Family Charitable Foundation is being recognized for the opportunities it is creating for people with disabilities, from employment to support and housing. The initiatives include a donation of a 4-acre housing tract of land in New Jersey as well as a facility to provide therapeutic services and housing in Baja, California. Committed to diverse and inclusive employment practices, the foundation employs team members with disabilities for positions where they can apply their unique skillsets to drive results. The foundation’s goal is to assist people with disabilities of all ages to find their unique talents and skills, enabling them to be better integrated into the community. The Spano Family Foundation is affiliated with Millstone-based Spano Partners Holdings (SPH), a diverse real estate investment firm with a focus on renewable energy solar PV projects. SPH helps fund philanthropic development work around the world, including countries such as Haiti and South Africa.
Dr. Merodie A. Hancock, President
In its 50th Anniversary year, Trenton-based Thomas Edison State University (TESU) celebrates an academic model that has supported New Jersey’s workforce since 1972. As such, TESU embraces the myriad ways diversity, equity and inclusion make us all stronger. President Merodie Hancock created the university’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council in 2020 to generate dialogue, engagement and growth regarding DEI across the university and the affiliated New Jersey State Library. In 2021, Hancock appointed the institution’s first Chief Student Success, Equity, and Inclusion officer to focus on the success of all students. Recently, TESU launched the Peer Support program to develop safe and inclusive environments for peer mentorship and tutoring. DEI and global perspectives continue to be incorporated into all phases of the university’s work to ensure the legacy of the next 50 years is equally as entrenched in empowerment and success for our students, alumna and employees.
Carol B. Tomé, Chief Executive Officer
UPS is a people-led company guided by a strong purpose. It values the contributions of its people and encourages everyone to bring their unique perspectives, backgrounds, talents and skills to work every day. UPS’s bold vision for DEI includes a new statement introduced to all UPSers around the globe: “You belong at UPS. You, the global collection of UPS people, customers and community members, are welcomed and valued here. We will live this vision by unlocking the power of diversity by seeking distinct perspectives and backgrounds.” In 2020, UPS established an Equity, Justice and Action (EJA) task force to research and ensure alignment with core DEI principles like pay equity and equal employment opportunity. UPS also formalized a DEI department and named a C-suite level Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer (CDEIO). This CDEIO leads DEI efforts globally, supported by UPS’s long-standing DEI Council.
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