‘The difference between a successful law firm and an outstanding organisation is the human factor,’ says Nicolet Beetsma, HR Director at NautaDutilh. ‘This requires leadership by our partners and managers, engaged employees, and an inclusive culture. We need to embrace and value diversity and create a safe environment in which people dare to speak up and provide feedback, which in turn stimulates teamwork. Focusing on the human factor will help us stay fit for the future.’ Our HR department can contribute to CSR in many different ways, for example by fostering an inclusive and diverse culture, integrating CSR aspects into our fringe benefits and training programmes, and making CSR part of our employer brand.
Room to be yourself
NautaDutilh is very committed to fostering an inclusive and diverse environment, one in which differences are not only accepted but highly valued. The business case for inclusion and diversity (I&D) is stronger than ever, and we believe it will help us improve our professional performance and profitability. I&D has been on the agenda of the Board for many years now, and we have received several awards, at the firm and individual levels, recognising our commitment to I&D. We participate in various initiatives that promote diversity in the workplace, such as Workplace Pride, the Legal Diversity & Inclusion Alliance in Belgium, the Diversity Dinner by Global People, and World Pride New York. We are a co-founder of the FORWARD foundation and have established our own LGBT+ network, ND Globe.
We use inclusive language in our communications and have developed training sessions on gender diverse and inclusive language. Our New York office recently introduced a gender-neutral dress code.
Last year, we set up the Young Professionals Board, an advisory committee to the Board which gives millennials a voice within the firm. We also introduced a new remuneration policy in 2020, with a fair, simple and transparent remuneration structure based solely on years of employment. This eliminates the risk of discrimination on the basis of other factors.
Despite these many initiatives, we acknowledge that there is more to be done. The gender ratio is balanced at associate level, but at partner level currently stands at 26% female partners. Our ambition is to reach a balanced gender ratio at all senior levels by 2025.
We strive to stimulate female talent in the pipeline. We encourage talented women to take part in our ‘Talent naar de top’ leadership programme. We also offer individual coaching. In terms of cultural diversity, our goal is to have 20% of our people from minority cultural backgrounds by 2025. To improve our I&D performance, last year we appointed an I&D specialist. She organises awareness training within the firm and is rolling out a new I&D strategy. The focus is on (personal) leadership, unconscious bias and stimulating a culture in which sharing different views and honest feedback is encouraged.
Personal development and leadership
To stay leading amongst our peers it is important to invest in our people. Two years ago, we launched TOP, an ongoing talent development programme. Last year, we developed the NautaDutilh MBA leadership programme and a remote leadership programme to help our managers coach their employees while working from home. These training programmes focus on the qualifications, skills and behavioural repertoire of our employees. We also pay substantial attention to personal growth. Last year, we introduced My Nature, a two-day retreat in nature, during which participants ponder a personal question and spend time reflecting on their personal and professional goals. Another initiative, launched in 2019 by one of our associates, is the NautaDutilh CSR Sabbatical. The CSR Sabbatical gives two employees per year the chance to take part in a CSR project, in their home country or abroad. This is a paid one-month sabbatical, with an additional stipend of EUR 2,000. Any employee can apply.
The first two recipients participated in the Captain Fanplastic primary school programme and a project organised by the Mboté foundation to provide financial support for orphans in the Kinshasa region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We also support She Breaks the Law, a global community of women leaders driving innovation in the legal industry. We hosted their launch event in 2019, contribute financially and regularly participate in their female leadership events.
In order to enable and encourage our employees to spend time at work on activities other than their main tasks, we introduced so-called ME2WE hours last year. Think of activities such as participating in a CSR project, organising events, business development activities, or active membership of the CSR Committee, Pro Bono Committee or I&D Committee. We made ME2WE hours a prerequisite in our bonus structure.
Another priority area for us is the mental and physical wellbeing of our employees. This proved especially important in the past year, during which all of our people had to work from home due to Covid-19 restrictions. We initiated numerous activities to keep everyone engaged and on board, from breakfasts with the Board, mindfulness walks and streamed yoga classes to personal coaching, Christmas dinners delivered at home to all employees of our Luxembourg office, a babysitting service during the lockdown and the option to speak with an external psychologist.