Features

Luiz Fernando Roschel – dsm-firmenich

Legal compliance director makes Firmenich a world leader in diversity & ethics

When Luiz Fernando Roschel joined Firmenich, a Switzerland-based fragrance and flavor company, in 2015, his first goal was to stand up a legal department for Latin America with a dedicated ethics and compliance division and a consolidated company culture in the region.

“That went well, and in 2019, we were recognized by a local magazine, which declared that we had one of the best compliance programs in Brazil,” recounts Roschel, the company’s director of legal compliance for Latin America.

Luiz Fernando Roschel | Director, Legal Compliance (LATAM) | dsm-firmenich

Luiz Fernando Roschel | Director, Legal Compliance (LATAM) | dsm-firmenich

That recognition was for Firmenich’s culture of transparency, he explains.

Recently, Firmenich merged with DSM, establishing a new company that “brings together one of the largest innovation and creation communities in nutrition, health and beauty,” he says. The new company has 83 offices across six continents and nearly 30,000 employees.

“Being a business partner, I’m not only ensuring compliance and managing risk but am totally involved in the effort to create more business,” Roschel says. “I’m creating the necessary legal conditions to achieve our objectives.”

A diverse workforce is a happy workforce

Roschel has also made diversity in the workforce a priority since he signed on with the company. He says the company has made great strides in gender diversity, in particular. Before the merger, Firmenich received the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality certification, a credential bestowed by the EDGE Certified Foundation based on an independent evaluation of five criteria: equal pay for equal work; company culture; flexible working conditions; recruitment and promotion; and leadership mentoring.

“We started to work on it gradually, in order to have more women in the leadership positions,” he says.

Luiz Fernando Roschel | Director, Legal Compliance (LATAM) | dsm-firmenich

Roschel helped implement things like a blind candidate selection process, with only the professional qualifications of each applicant known to key decision-makers. There is also a new coaching program to advance equity in leadership and salaries. Also, the company instituted flexible work times for mothers as well as hybrid work arrangements and started mental health and other wellness initiatives.

Roschel says he believes diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, on both the gender and racial fronts, have led to happier employees.

“Our last satisfaction survey in Brazil showed that 96 percent of our employees feel happy working with us,” he says. “We have people very engaged in the company. People identify with the company’s purpose.”

Amid crisis, an opportunity to improve

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, companies across Brazil and across the world were caught flat-footed. Not Roschel, who, in response, formed a local crisis committee at the company. Working with the human resources department, he started by serving as a sounding board to the company’s workforce.

“Our goal was to hear people out, to understand their concerns and translate those to the company’s reality,” he says. “We wanted to put the people in a condition to work well despite the difficulties.”

Luiz Fernando Roschel | Director, Legal Compliance (LATAM) | dsm-firmenich

Employees were afraid to go to work, but after implementing preventative measures, people told Roschel and others at the company that they felt safer coming to work. Also, business increased because people were spending more time at home and using the company’s products.

Roschel was part of a local committee that held daily meetings and made quick decisions when workers tested positive for COVID-19. He says employee productivity increased because workers felt protected by the company and felt their concerns were being heard and addressed.

“The committee’s efforts kept people together, faced problems and found solutions,” he says. “We listened to our people, our community and our clients and made the best decisions to protect everyone’s interests.”

Finding his professional niche

A 1998 graduate of Universidade Paulista, where he earned a law degree, and Fundação Getulio Vargas, where he earned an MBA in 2004, Roschel began his career at Cargill in 1997. After working on the legal team there as a trainee for a year and a half, he made the leap to Ernst & Young as an attorney.

Two years later, Roschel joined VOITH Group, a global technology company focusing on the energy, paper, raw materials and transportation sectors. He led the corporate legal department for Latin America, participating in complex negotiations and the restructuring of the legal department. He worked there for over a decade.

Luiz Fernando Roschel | Director, Legal Compliance (LATAM) | dsm-firmenich

In 2011, Roschel moved to CNH Industrial, serving first as legal director for Latin America and then as director of legal and compliance for Latin America. In 2015, he took on his current role of legal and compliance director for Latin America.

Through it all, Roschel has enjoyed the work-life balance dsm-firmenich affords, taking up gardening, renovating his house on the beach and enrolling in an interior design course in his spare time.

View this feature in the Vanguard Summer III 2023 Edition here.

Published on: August 4, 2023

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