In EQUAL in LEGAL’s Trailblazer series we feature Vincent Brugge, VP General Counsel Europe & Asia at ICL. Vincent is an advocate for D&I&B and a strong believer in the impact of staying healthy and fit in order to deal with personal and professional challenges. He tells his team that ‘work will be here’ and shows others their superpowers.
Vincent happily lives together with long-term partner Judith and their twin daughters, Helen and Anna, in Amsterdam and when not spending time with his power girls, he can be found in the gym, on the mats, or in singing class.
'Diversity is being invited to the party, Inclusion is being asked to dance and Belonging is dancing like nobody is watching.'
‘At ICL Diversity means understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people. Inclusion means embracing colleagues who look, act, and, importantly, think differently. And we see Belonging as a human need, it is genetically wired in each and every one of us. We have adopted this as follows on the basis of Verna Myers’ quote: ‘Diversity is being invited to the party, Inclusion is being asked to dance and Belonging is dancing like nobody is watching.’
Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. It's not a numbers game.
While I believe it is important to set targets for DIB – ICL signed the UN Women’s empowerment principles and set clear targets in that respect for 2024 – as you need to be able to measure how you are doing, it is not the end goal. Hitting a DIB target is important, but even more important is to maintain and build upon that achieved target and make it really sustainable as part of our company’s DNA. As such, DIB is an ongoing journey and not a destination.
Embracing this journey, we nominated a global DIB Officer in June 2020, launched a dedicated and interactive platform to inform and train our employees on DIB and created a network of “DIB Ambassadors” within ICL. Being a “DIB Ambassador” myself, I find it a great opportunity to learn more about DIB, support various DIB initiatives across the company and where necessary, be a ‘safe haven’ for colleagues.
Work will be here
We do not live to work and I always tell my team that “’work’ will be here”. Work will be here when you are at your best, your worst and everything in between. As such, you will bounce back at work one way or another and while we need to manage our work efficiently and effectively, we need to realize that our mental health & well-being do not bounce back so easily. So, what does this all mean? Set aside essential time to spend with friends and loved ones, take care of your body & mind, rest, take time to recharge, and reload where needed. It is much harder to bounce back from broken relationships, neglected health, a burnout, or lost time with loved ones. Work, though, will still be there and will benefit from an active, healthy, and rock-solid person performing it.
Applying this in practice as a leader, this not only means you need to be emphatic and compassionate towards your colleagues, providing them with the opportunity to reload & recharge, but also deal with major stressors at work and in the office such as safety, uncertainty and ambiguity, which all have an impact on both our physical and mental health. Providing clarity of purpose, (over)communicating a vision, setting an effective, efficient and inclusive operating model, or any other relevant structure to ground people is key to keep employees engaged and empowered. This will contribute to their overall mental health and well-being while at work. Within the Legal & Compliance team, we worked hard the last year to tackle the essential questions: Why are we here and what impact do we want to make across ICL, what work should we be doing in that context – and equally important: what work we should not be doing to reach our goals – and how are we going to do that (e.g., optimize processes and workflows, with the assistance of a combination of “legal tech” tools).
Collaborate in a healthy & mindful way
The same applies to our external partners, such as the various law firms we work with. We want to be an efficient and a good partner by optimizing processes on our end, for example how we onboard law firms, allocate work, and process invoices through e-billing. Being a good partner here also means being efficient when we outsource work and not running external lawyers into the ground because we did not manage the work properly on our end.
Showing others their superpowers
Finally, I would like to share a quote by Alexander Den Heijer which I really like: “You don’t inspire people by revealing your superpowers. You inspire people by helping them show them their own superpowers.” This is about guiding people to depend on themselves, which is great in good times and when celebrating successes, but critical in difficult times or situations. Help people to deal with tragic situations like the current C-19 pandemic, personal loss, or issues and they will grow. It is easy to tell people what to do, it is much more difficult to guide people so that they can find the solution themselves and crush it.’