Building a Shared Sense of Belonging

Susan Deakins

By Susan Deakins | December 23, 2014

One of Penn Mutual’s core values is a shared sense of belonging, not only within our organization but also among our stakeholders, our policyholders, and the communities where we live and work. Penn Mutual as a firm has always supported charities such as United Way, Go Red for Women, and our annual Toy Drive. Each individual team or department also get involved in its own projects, too; my own department took a day where we volunteered for Cradles to Crayons. Especially at this time of year, there is a lot of wonderful community initiatives going on.

Because we are so community oriented, we recently launched a new associate-driven team focused on our value of a shared sense of belonging. I volunteered to be the executive sponsor of the team, and we had a crush of people wanting to serve as one of its 12 members. The mission of this team is to look at our community involvement holistically, so that we have a better sense of what we’re all doing throughout the company and begin targeting it a little bit differently.

For the past 20 years, we’ve had an associate-driven team for recognition called Pride. It’s been very successful, and this new team models after it. People roll on and roll off the team every few years, so there’s always fresh blood in the committee. It’s a great way for associates to get to meet people in different parts of the company, to build relationships, and work on something that’s outside of our everyday work.

I have to admit, that’s one of the main reasons I volunteered to sponsor it. As CFO, I work with finance all day, but this team allows me to connect value to values. It’s obviously a little bit outside of what I do on a day-to-day basis, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to work with different people and help drive all aspects of our company values.

Frankly, because this is an associate-driven team, I don’t know where it’s going to end up. Financial literacy and wellness have been important themes in much of the work done by the company and our individual associates, but maybe they will take us in a totally new direction, but always tied to our purpose of creating possibilities for people.

And, this is about more than just writing a check. This group is not necessarily authorized to make financial contributions, but they can raise money from among the associates, if that’s the direction they want to take. There’s opportunity for service as well. If you’re involved in something on a personal level, I think it means more to you than just sending a check.

The goal in our Shared Sense of Belonging team is to evoke a presence beyond just these four walls here in Horsham. It certainly starts here at the home office community. What’s different about this is that it’s an associate-driven program, so the associates are setting the pace for the community. At our kickoff meeting, the room was overflowing with enthusiasm and wonderful ideas. If that first meeting was any indication, we’re going to make a real impact in the community-and that’s what counts the most.

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