At MassMutual, a Powerful Guiding Principle Connects Employees

Three MassMutual tech employees unpack the meaning — and impact — of the principle “Live Mutual.” 

Written by Olivia McClure
Published on May. 11, 2022
At MassMutual, a Powerful Guiding Principle Connects Employees
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“Live Mutual” isn’t just a company motto. For MassMutual’s employees, it’s a way of life.

According to Head of Data Science, Cybersecurity and Fraud Sara Saperstein, its meaning is multi-fold. It relates to the transformation that takes place both within the organization and externally. 

“‘Live Mutual’ is reflected in many things we do day-to-day, such as how we approach our work and collaborate, yet it’s also about how we give back to the broader community,” she said. 

Saperstein sees MassMutual’s impact firsthand every day. While this manifests in many ways, she said the company’s commitment to candid communication resonates with her the most. 

“We cultivate a sense of psychological safety and focus on building mutual respect so people can have honest conversations in a way that’s productive and supportive,” she continued. 

 

DISCOVER THE OPPORTUNITY TO “LIVE MUTUAL”

As MassMutual’s innovation journey continues, so do its hiring efforts. The company currently has a broad range of open roles spanning disciplines including data science, software development, cloud engineering, design, marketing and sales. Across these fields and beyond, employees are encouraged to be creative and find new ways of doing things. Saperstein says there are three important elements new hires can expect to encounter at the organization: mutuality, communication and transparency.

 

According to Data Engineer Haaris Mohamed, MassMutual’s focus on thinking forward can be felt in both the company’s technological undertakings and its educational opportunities. In his mind, this continuous flow of knowledge fuels innovation across the enterprise.

“MassMutual provides a platform for employees to share their thoughts and ideas not only within the organization, but also across the larger tech landscape,” Mohamed said. 

Another way employees “Live Mutual” is through MassMutual’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, which are considered non-negotiable companywide. Each MassMutual employee is expected to play a part in ensuring that the culture is inclusive.

Web Developer Marcus Eubanks has watched the organization’s dedication to diversity grow over the years. Serving on the digital experience team’s employee engagement committee offered him the opportunity to learn from his peers and drive change alongside them.

“It’s so rewarding to hear everyone’s stories,” Eubanks said. “We have business resource groups that enable employees to come together in a safe space, talk about their experiences and connect on a whole different level. We can learn from each other and become allies.”

MassMutual offers Saperstein, Mohamed and Eubanks the chance to contribute to a workplace that benefits employees as well as their communities. The conversation below offers insight into the specific ways in which the organization exemplifies its “Live Mutual” motto and the impact an empowering culture has on its people. 

 

How is MassMutual’s commitment to candid communication reflected across the company?

Saperstein: At MassMutual, we’re lucky in the sense that this commitment is modeled at the top by senior leadership and all the way down. It’s really embedded into our culture. There is a large degree of transparency, both in terms of how decisions are made and the visibility we have regarding what each team is working on. With plenty of avenues for communication and access to excellent, curated training opportunities, we have ample chances to grow our knowledge and cultural competency. 

 

ALLIED RESOURCES

MassMutual’s eight business resource groups drive organizational results, increase employee engagement, and foster awareness, respect, and inclusion within the workplace. Eubanks noted, “MassMutual offers various BRGs, which focus on distinct interests or diverse backgrounds. At our Boston office, I served as a representative for our African American BRG, Passages. There are groups dedicated to key issues, such as accessibility, as well as other communities, and they allow employees to come together in a safe space and discuss their personal experiences and world events. Through these groups, teammates can connect on a different level, learn from each other and become allies.”

 

The rotunda at the office with a pride flag hanging in the window
MassMutual

 

What impact does a forward-thinking mindset have on your work and the company’s culture?

Mohamed: From a technical standpoint, we’re enhancing our digital capabilities through cloud migration and data encryption, which is a forward-thinking approach that few companies are taking in the data warehouse environment. With access to virtual summits and conferences, employees have plenty of opportunities to share their insight. This is a forward-thinking aspect of the company, considering we’re serving the community and supporting our organization in the process. 

Eubanks: A few years ago, my department created a research and development squad, which is a six-month rotational group that enables employees to explore the latest technologies and business trends. This not only encourages team members to consider other career paths, but it also allows the company to experiment with new technologies, which ultimately creates greater value for our customers. 

MassMutual is also forward-thinking in its approach to connection. The company provides employees with the knowledge and training needed to cultivate a workplace rooted in shared understanding, inclusion and support. Through programs like its learning pathway on systemic racism, the organization supports employees in learning while fostering the awareness and understanding foundational to meaningful connection.

 

 

How does the company encourage employees to cultivate inclusion within their respective teams and the organization as a whole?

Eubanks: I spent some time on our digital experience team’s employee engagement committee, which is a yearly rotational committee that allows employees to brainstorm ways to improve the overall experience of working at MassMutual. The committee maintains a calendar of all holidays and dates of significance across cultures, while providing information about each one. In addition to educating employees, this effort honors everyone’s heritage. By maintaining this calendar for a time, I learned a lot about my peers and forged connections with them.

 

DEDICATION TO CHANGE

According to Saperstein, dedication to diversity is a defining feature of MassMutual’s community. In addition to launching various initiatives tied to inclusion, employees have participated in CEO Action for Racial Equity, a fellowship that empowers people to challenge systemic racism through public policy. “It’s been really exciting to hear about the progress being made through all these efforts,” Saperstein said. Since the the establishment of the partnership in 2020, MassMutual has had six fellows dedicated to it full-time, contributing to legislation to expand broadband and telehealth access to underserved communities, among other initiatives. They also participate in advocating on issues such as bipartisan police reform, the decriminalization of poverty and the declaration of racism as a public health crisis.

 

How does MassMutual foster a focus on connection?

Mohamed: Our leaders approach everything with generosity. There are no closed doors in our office. Employees can easily approach leaders to share ideas with them. The company also offers “spotlight awards,” which shine a light on how team members have stepped up to solve issues. Through these awards, employees have the chance to accumulate points and receive a gift. This ultimately encourages everyone to continually share ideas and inspires others to take the lead. 

Eubanks: To celebrate work anniversaries, MassMutual offers employees a selection of generous gifts to choose from. I think this is a really nice gesture, and it’s one I haven’t seen at previous employers. Employees also have opportunities to congratulate their coworkers on their tenure, which is always great to see. 

Saperstein: I think we’re very generous in the ways we recognize each other. My team has a Slack channel dedicated to celebrating wins, and many teams have avenues for sharing appreciation and gratitude. By highlighting the individuals behind every win, we’re able to emphasize how much collaboration goes into our many initiatives. 

 

ENABLING VOLUNTEERISM

MassMutual offers many ways for employees to give back to the communities where they live and work. The Matching Gift program serves to match eligible employees’ charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations. The company provides up to three paid days off to volunteer, when employees can offer their time and talents to eligible nonprofit organizations of their choice. Employees also may participate in company-sponsored volunteer opportunities on company time with manager approval. Finally, through “matching time,” the MassMutual Foundation awards funds to organizations for which employees volunteer.

 

Building exterior of the MassMutual headquarters
MassMutual

 

What opportunities do team members have to bring “Live Mutual” to life?

Saperstein: In the data science organization, we hold a large number of initiatives, including a Boston-based meetup that enables like-minded professionals to learn about each other’s work. We also host nature hikes and support local, female-led hackathons, such as HackHolyoke and Hack(H)er413. These events help us discover talent and foster growth. Additionally, we partner with various universities, such as the University of Vermont and Boston University, to support tech research. We reach out to other nearby communities in many ways, including engaging with elementary and high school students to teach them about data science and get them excited about the future of technology. 

 

“‘Live Mutual’ is about not only succeeding ourselves, but also helping our surrounding communities.”

 

Mohamed: I think “Live Mutual” is reflected in our focus on collaboration. There is a common understanding that every problem faced requires team effort, which means nothing ever falls on the shoulders of one team member. Employees are also very involved in worldwide events and will donate to support communities across the globe. For example, after the 2020 explosion in Beirut, team members came together to raise funds for those within that community. Employees often seize opportunities to take the lead and spark change. 

Eubanks: I really enjoy volunteering outside of work as well as through company-sponsored events and the MassMutual Foundation. One of the greatest benefits the company offers is time off for volunteering. I’m looking forward to using this perk to start working with Habitat for Humanity. The company also matches employees’ charitable contributions. There’s an organization where I used to serve on the board and continue to lend my support, and MassMutual matches all my donations. As a result, the entire organization’s staff was treated to a nice dinner. It’s nice to see people get rewarded for the work they do. For me, that’s what “Live Mutual” means. It’s about not only succeeding ourselves, but also helping our surrounding communities.

 

massmutual office
MassMutual

 

For MassMutual, the connection between employees and the communities in which they work and live is only one way of bringing about positive change outside its walls, both real and virtual. Its culture is built on foundational commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as to innovative thinking and a community of mutual support and risk-sharing. Employees are welcomed to bring their whole selves to work, as well as to create the balance between work and personal life that is right for them, their families and their own well-being. MassMutual believes that empowering employees in this way is the best path to creating change for good, and it’s the only way to truly think forward as a company committed to the principle ‘Live Mutual.’

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by MassMutual.

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