Cover Mollie Jean de Dieu wants companies to do more to recognise the humanity of their employees and support their wellbeing (Photo: Beatrice Contrini)

Mollie Jean de Dieu opens up about taking a risk to launch Emotional Inclusion, an NGO that advocates for mental health in the workplace, while representing a luxury fashion brand and being a mom of two

“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

SUNDAY PREP FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

I am by nature a very organised person, the quintessential type A, I admit. So I like to spend some time every Sunday evening looking at my calendar to mentally prep for the week ahead so as not to be caught off guard or forget any important deadline/assignment.

When it comes to work-life balance, I prioritise my to-dos and try—I underline the ‘try’ (I am a work in progress)—not to be too hard on myself when work overspills on life or when life overspills on work. It’s all one glorious juggle.

See also: How I Work It: A Green Developer And Single Parent On Organising Her Work Life 


CREATIVE EARLY MORNINGS

My days start at 5.30am; the stillness of the early morning nourishes me. I pour myself a warm glass of water with a dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice and sip on it before hitting that coffee button for my first cup of caffeine of the day. I now have limited myself to two a day and find that I sleep better if I stick to this regimen.

I am the most creative in the early mornings, when I am surrounded with the stillness of life and no one to tend to. I wouldn’t trade this time of the day for anything. This robotic work culture that we have on hyperdrive has morphed what it means to be human at large. Pressing pause every day to reflect is both vital and commonsensical.

See also: Want To Improve Your Mental Health? Wake Up An Hour Earlier, New Study Suggests

WORKOUTS FOR INSPIRATION AND OUTFITS FOR CONFIDENCE

I like to vary my morning workout and, depending on the day, I will either do a 10K walk or a run through the Singapore Botanic Gardens, high-intensity interval training, or a workout at Pure Fitness, where my trainer works me to the core. It is vital for me to stay inspired and maintain my mind-body connection.

I’m back home by 7.30 am to see the children off to school and then I get ready for work. To feel confident, I mingle comfort with key statement pieces and I always wear my signature pink lipstick: Vantine Fuchsia by Gucci. The days are full-on from there on end.

REAL TALK IN THE WORKPLACE

I want our offices here in Singapore and Malaysia to be places where you want to come to work every day. Places where you can speak up, feel heard, and not judged. It’s been an interesting struggle as Covid-19 has played out over the past two years.

Ultimately it’s about taking the time out to really connect with my colleagues and employees. To truly listen to the answer to ‘how are you’ and to not hesitate to delve a bit deeper when the usual quick answers are given (tired, stress, overworked etc.).

I believe that we leaders have the lions share of responsibility because our impact can be great.  A leader is ‘someone who can see how things can be improved and who rallies people to move towards that better vision.’ We can all be leaders if we choose to be. Everyone can create more emotional inclusion in their vicinity by speaking up about how they truly feel. We are humans at work, let us not forget this.

Don’t miss: How Jennifer Yu Cheng Is Empowering Girls to Be Future-Ready Leaders

WHY WE NEED A NEW WORK PHILOSOPHY

Old management paradigms brought into the 21st century do not work. We’re in a new era where we need more creativity in business; everyone needs their unique skills to be valued and utilised; and corporate success is found at the heart of employee well-being. 

Mental health is one of the most neglected areas of health globally. This was true before Covid-19, but the pandemic has further worsened the status of mental health overall. There are several reasons why. The primary one is stigma; another is fragmented and archaic work service models. Organisations need to accelerate better health coverage, including both physical and mental health. It cannot be tackled in silo: it will otherwise percolate through all aspects of organisational success and profitability.

Don't miss: Why Health and Wellness Matter More Than Ever—and How Employers Can Fight Mass Burnout

MY LIFE PHILOSOPHY IN 4 STATEMENTS

  1. Curiosity is the twin sister of humility
  2. You can’t wait for life not to be hard anymore before you decide to be happy
  3. If you want to be heard, make a statement
  4. What is delayed is not denied

“MOMMY!”: THE MOST REWARDING PART OF MY DAY

Nothing will ever replace being welcomed back home from a long day’s work by my children running down the driveway screaming “mommy” at the top of their lungs. I realise that this will not last forever and so I cherish these moments for however long they will last.

Later on, as a family we each share what part of the day we are the most grateful for. It spurs on positive discussions about life and I find it constructive overall.

Don’t miss: How to Make Gratitude a Habit for You and Your Kids


WINDING DOWN AND EARLY TO BED

Evenings are short for me as I am in bed by no later than 9.30pm. Winding down consists of a long hot shower or an indulgent bath whilst listening to a podcast or my book of the moment on Audible. And yes, I do wear my ear pods in the shower.

3 of Mollie Jean de Dieu’s Favourite Things

Books: The Fearless Organization by Amy C. Edmondson and You’ve Got This! by Margie Warrell

Podcasts: Unlocking Us with Brené Brown, On Purpose with Jay Shetty and, I’ll be biased, the Emotional Inclusion podcast!

Restaurants: Luke’s and Odette in Singapore; Le Grand Colbert and Girafe in Paris, where I lived for most of my formative years and still have family


NOW READ

How I Work It: The Charity CEO Who Helps Kids While Raising 6 Of Her Own

The Wellness Trends We’ll All Be Obsessed With in 2022

Meet 4 Women Who Are Breaking Taboos Around Health and Sex in Hong Kong


A resource for women to become their best selves, Front & Female celebrates trailblazers and tackles timely, provocative issues through inspiring content and events. Join the community by subscribing to our newsletter and following #frontandfemale

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.