In 2021, the board and executive team at Connex Credit Union ($896.8M, New Haven, CT) adopted a mission and vision statement that emphasizes the importance of employees to the success of the credit union.
Along with prioritizing the hiring of employees that reflect a broad range of ages, ethnicities, sexual and gender orientation, physical abilities, and more, Connex also is committed to considering staff suggestions and connecting the work of employees at all levels to the organization’s broader goals.
CU QUICK FACTS
CONNEX CREDIT UNION
DATA AS OF 06.30.22
HQ: North Haven, CT
Net Worth 9.2%
For its part, management has committed to recognizing performance in a variety of ways, encouraging long-term career growth, and providing competitive pay and benefits to keep high-performing staff from leaving.
The credit union’s Employee Experience Statements ensures it stays on track with its internal practices, but Connex has its eye set on creating an impact that extends beyond its branch walls and into the communities it serves. That’s why it also adopted a new pillar in 2021: Community Impact.
To that end, Connex has put aside $5 million in a charitable donation account to fund ConnexCares, its 501(c)3 foundation. In addition to funding the foundation through this account, the credit union plans to donate more than $500,000 in earnings to the nonprofit during the next five years.
Only credit union employees serve on the board of ConnexCares — an idea CEO Frank Mancini says came from a friend at Desert Financial Credit Union ($8.4B, Phoenix, AZ) while participating in Sustainable Business Strategy, a program Callahan & Associates offers in collaboration with Harvard Business School Online. Connex also gives its 150 employees eight hours of paid time off for volunteer projects, which will generate more than 6,000 hours of volunteerism in the next five years.
“It’s important to engage your employees in ways that are tied to mission rather than money or other benefits,” the CEO says. “Folks, particularly younger people, want to work for companies that are mission-focused and doing something in the community.”
By choice, Mancini does not serve on the board. “I wanted the team to feel empowered to deliver on the mission and give them autonomy to make decisions on their own,” he says.
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Registration is now open for Callahan’s January 2023 Sustainable Business Strategy cohort. Sustainable Business Strategy, which Callahan & Associates offers in collaboration with Harvard Business School Online, helps credit union leaders look inside their organizations and rethink their roles and responsibilities to members, employees, communities, and the environment.
For its community, ConnexCares is focused on three pillars of giving: promoting financial education, improving children’s health, and helping to eliminate food insecurity. The credit union expects the foundation to put its funds toward everything from college scholarships and financial literacy seminars to in-kind donations for local charities and more.
Connex also has developed a community impact report card to keep members and the wider community up to date on the progress it has made toward its philanthropic goals. The team has gathered 90 potential data points to track — from CDFI loan volume to volunteer hours — but the final report, when released, will tell a larger story.
“That report card will not only demonstrate to the board and management, our members, and the public at large our commitment to our communities, it also will be one place where people can see what we do,” says Carl Casper, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Connex.
Befitting an organization that views employees as a family, earlier this year, staff and management rallied around Jim Luurtsema, director of IT infrastructure, who trained for and ran his first Boston Marathon on behalf of Boston Children’s Hospital/Miles for Miracles and the Credit Unions Kids at Heart team. Luurtsema ran for his patient partner Maddy and raised approximately $15,000 for research aimed at the prevention, treatment, and eventually cure of pediatric neurological disorders.
Luurtsema credits Mancini with challenging him to do something he’d always wanted to do and helping to get him into the race through his connections with Credit Unions Kids at Heart.
“I told him, ‘We’re going to help you at every step of the way,’” Mancini says. “He did an amazing job.”