“For someone who advocates mental health, you look as if you’re pretty solid and know what you’re doing.”
Mollie Jean de Dieu says she didn’t take it personally but was taken aback by this recent comment from an industry colleague—as if being a mental health advocate makes you unstable by definition.
The backhanded compliment is a reminder that even as mental health has become a more pressing and popular topic during Covid-19, the stigma is still very real.
After seeing employees struggle with their emotional wellness, Jean de Dieu began grappling with big-picture questions about what needed to change on an organisational level to support them.
She arrived at Emotional Inclusion (“we speak of all forms of inclusion, why not emotional inclusion?”), an NGO that sets up companies with trained therapists to provide individual counselling and recommendations for corporate values and policies. “I like to say that emotional intelligence is about the knowing of how to navigate through the emotional realm; emotional inclusion is all about doing it in a meaningful, organised way.”
At first, it felt scary, admits Jean de Dieu, who built her career representing French luxury brand Longchamp, where she is now GM of Singapore and Malaysia. But she has since become a vocal advocate for emotional inclusion in the workplace, doing talks and hosting podcast interviews with business leaders to exchange ideas and normalise the discussion.
Next she will be writing a book for Penguin Publishing that outlines her vision for humanising work cultures. “We don’t just hire employees for their functionalities in terms of the job description; we hire them for who they are, it’s the aura that they have, it’s their personality,” says Jean de Dieu. “And that’s something that is so easily forgotten.”
Investing in a clinical psychologist is one way for companies to recognise and care for the humanity of their individuals—and Jean de Dieu is encouraged by the level of corporate interest she is getting with Emotional Inclusion, her third job, as she calls it, beyond Longchamp and motherhood.
“My plate is full to say the least, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s dynamic, engaged, and purposeful work,” says Jean de Dieu. Below she shares more on her life and work philosophies, along with the routines and family rituals getting her through the week.
I believe in Emotional Inclusion so much that it keeps me awake at night. I can’t let it go, and I think that’s when you know that you’re on purpose— Mollie Jean de Dieu