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Interview with Ms Latifa Taleb-Serre, President of the International Dual Career Network (IDCN), and Head of International Mobility to France, L’Oréal

What is the IDCN and why was it founded?

The International Dual Career Network (IDCN) is a non-profit association formed through the collaboration of companies, NGO’s and academic institutions which strives to ease the mobility of talent in dual career situations. In addition, it grants access to a talent pool of diverse and often internationally experienced professionals and enhances the employees value proposition for current and future talent.

In 2011, the Head of Diversity & Inclusion of Nestle was transferred from the UK to Switzerland with her husband joining her. They faced the normal challenge of moving, with her husband having to leave his job in the UK behind. As head of Diversity & Inclusion at Nestle, she began to look at solutions and opportunities to develop a network that would provide tips for spouses moving to Switzerland and to help familiarise them with the local labour market. This first initiative was launched in Geneva with Cargill, PMI, E&Y and the Chamber of commerce. When L’Oréal learnt of this initiative in 2012, we joined and then the status of the IDCN was formalised.

Today, the IDCN is made up of organisations from all sectors with internationally focused activities, and along with energy and petrochemical companies, our membership includes pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, ministries, chambers of commerce and universities.

What I personally like about the IDCN is the simplicicty of the concept which is to put in touch the expatriates’ partners with HR in order to help them in their professional development. The initiative is sustainable and we want to help as many spouses settle in as easily as possible into their new, foreign, professional environments. 

How is the IDCN relevant to organisations with international activities?
The question of dual careers affects all industries and organisations, particularly those with an international presence and which have significant numbers of international employees with experts and managers spread out all over the world, many moved from one location to another after certain periods.

According to the EY Global Mobility Effectiveness Survey (2013), family and spouse issues continue to be one of the biggest challenges that threaten the success of international assignments. The IDCN is a part of the overall mix of solutions available to organisations when providing the best possible solutions for their employees.

The IDCN is also key in helping those who have had long careers abroad and are looking to returning home. Supporting the integration into a new or past environment is a fundamental support initiative in the employee value proposition.

Practically, how does the IDCN operate?

Since its founding in 2011, the network has been growing very quickly. Today 15 networks currently exist in 11 countries and future locations will open soon.

After 5 years, the core purpose of the IDCN remains the same, to help partners of expatriates to access the local labour market as easily as possible. If people want to move, both women and men, then their partners need support. The IDCN provides support in Talent management for our member companies: firstly, to ease mobility of Talents in dual career situation, and secondly to have access to this international pool of talent, with high education levels and experienced backgrounds, many of whom speak multiple languages.

When arriving in a new country, partners don’t know the specificities of the local market. The IDCN gives them access to a professional network, accessed via the regularly held IDCN events.

Each network organises regular local events during the year, with the active support of their member companies during which information and support is provided to the partners on the specificities of the local labour market. Via the IDCN, they now have access to HR experts who can for example, help by advising and adapting resume’s and behaviours during interviews. Additionally, during these events, recruitment specialists from the company members present their vacancies, giving attendees easy access to potential opportunities. There is no preferential treatment made to the partners and the recruitment process and requirements remain the same.

From our experience, we now see that the pool of talent attending our events are very high, with member organisations able to recruit amongst this group. By taking care of the partners, the employees are proud to work for their organisations, thereby adding good value to the employee value proposition. This was not the initial intention of the IDCN, but has been a positive outcome of our efforts.

How can an organisation join the IDCN?
Joining is quite easy, however there are some commitments that need to be made by corporate members:

  1. Attend 2-3 IDCN Local Corporate Steering Committee meetings per year (happens every half year and the duration is 2-4 hours – varies by location)
  2. Organize and coordinate 1 IDCN event at the corporate member premises (1 event per every 2 years’ minimum) – the Partner Committee composed by volunteers will be an extra resource to organize events
  3. Send recruiters to IDCN network events hosted by other companies (4-6 events per year depending on location. For example, in Paris there are 5 events per year.)

Finally, I would like to add that the IDCN is a part of the overall mix of solutions available to organisations when providing the best possible solutions for their employees. The benefits are so many that we would like to encourage organisations to join our network.

Head of International Mobility to France

The L’Oréal International Mobility Team, based in Paris, manages over 1000 expatriates worldwide. Latifa leads the International Mobility Team whose mission is to help integrate expatriates arriving to France and their families.

L’Oréal joined the International Dual Career Network Association in 2012 and is now part of the Global Executive Board together with Nestlé, Philip Morris, Novartis, ABB and Mondelez. Latifa, as General Secretary of the IDCN Global Board, also plays a key role in the deployment of IDCN in France along with Nestlé France and Axa (the IDCN Paris founding companies).

Latifa, with a PhD in Linguistics, started her career as Human Interface Specialist in the field of Speech Recognition Systems. After 7 years in this highly technical field, she moved to Human Resources and joined L’Oreal. During her first 4 years at L’Oréal, she held the post of International Mobility Manager for assignments to North and Latin America.

In 2010, she took up the position of HR Manager within the Research & Development Department at L’Oréal, taking care of the support functions. Following this highly enriching experience, Latifa returned in early 2013 to the International Mobility team as Head of the France Team.

Latifa enjoys working in a highly multi-cultural workplace and implementing new ideas.