Food trucks and dunk tanks: How Pulte 'ignites the spark'

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For Pulte Mortgage, the process of becoming a Best Mortgage Company to Work For started with a survey.

The Englewood, Colo.-based lender — the wholly owned subsidiary of the homebuilder, Pulte Group — made key cultural decisions when president and CEO, Debra Still, moved into the role in 2004 after 18 years filling other positions. The decisions gave the company clarity around its core purpose, area of focus and mission.

"We went out to our workforce and said, 'Why do you work here? Why do you stay here?' We got all these answers and bundled them up into 10 values," Still said in an interview. "They were values already alive and well in the organization, but we verbalized them. Our values are called the spark and we want to ignite the spark."

That bundle of 10 values includes: do the right thing, put customers first, be accountable, be the best, listen more, be respectful, embrace innovation, smile daily, stand proud, and work as a unified team. Inclusion is a core element of many of the values.

"We want to make sure we are inviting and including as many talented people as we can to our organization. Once there, we want to make sure that our workforce can appreciate the differences, the healthy differences, that we have," Still said. "Diversity means everyone. We work really hard in our culture to make sure everyone feels included. We have an entire diversity and inclusion framework that includes governance, metrics, talent acquisition and the environment."

Pulte received recognition for this, winning the Diversity & Inclusion Award from the Mortgage Bankers Association in 2017 and an honorary mention the year before. To make sure the company holds true to its values, the executive team holds "culture checks" with a random employee every month and asks if anything needs improving.

Pulte’s leadership also made some nontraditional efforts to cultivate employee happiness.

"We were one of the first to go into a new office park and there are no walkable restaurants so we just started having food trucks come. And it's not just for lunch, it can just be for a fun Friday morning," said Still. "It's amazing to me how those little things really make a difference to our workforce and how much they actually appreciate it."

Pulte also puts on a bunch of fun events throughout the year to support another pillar of their business: charity.

The company has a charitable giving committee that organizes the events and employees can submit recommendations for fundraisers. Recently, Pulte held a "Dunk Your Fellow Employee For Charity" with workers giving donations and taking a plunge in the dunk tank. Naturally, Pulte wants to help their customers achieve the dream of homeownership, but also wants to build a meaningful place to work.

"We also rally around the MBA Opens Doors Foundation, providing housing and rental grants to families who have critically ill children and are struggling financially," said Still. "We want to give back to the community and to the broader environment we support."

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