On Tuesday 28th June, we hosted our first ever conference – HeANDShe – with a diverse panel of speakers from the worlds of neuroscience, mental health campaigning, media and advertising.
Our intention was to discuss how to bring men along to the gender conversation, along with starting a debate about how men are also harmed by gender stereotypes.
The evening brought thought-provoking conversation about how and why the panel would tackle harmful gender stereotypes.
For those of you that couldn’t be there, here are some insights.
Dr Jack Lewis, neuroscientist, kicked off by stating that female and male brains are much more similar that dissimilar, and that nurture plays a huge role in shaping the brain differences between men and women. What this means is how we treat our girls and boys, which research tells us is different even before they are born if we know their gender, is what largely shapes the consequent differences in our brains. He suggested that the brain is more likely to remember narratives and stories, rather than facts. This may be why the idea that ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ has gained so much traction, when in fact the similarities are much more pronounced than the differences.
Natasha Devon MBE, the Government’s former Mental Health ambassador for Schools and co-founder of the Self-Esteem Team, explained the devastating impact that gender stereotypes can have on young men and boys, which is shown by the alarming high suicide rates and rise in mental health and self-esteem issues that young people suffer today. She suggested that having one emotion – whether that be happiness or anger – isn’t enough for any human being, and that men especially need to be able to have the space and opportunity to be able to open up and share how they’re feeling.
Harriet Minter, Women in Leadership editor for The Guardian, put forward the case that women need to do less and men need to do more, expect more and ask for more. She shone a light on how hard it can be for men to choose a career that they are passionate about over providing for their family, how challenging it can be for men to have the space to care for their children, and how it might actually be tougher for men to ask for flexible working and extended parental leave than it is for women. Harriet argued that gender equality is still just a “nice to have” in our industry and we need to continue having this conversation if we are ever to affect real change within our organisations.
Paul Frampton, Group CEO of Havas Media Group UK & Ireland, went last and did a great job at landing these insights in the world of advertising and media. He discussed leadership styles and how “leadership is changing… and emotions are the secret weapon of great leaders”. This, in his view, provides a strong case for more gender diversity at a senior level and the emergence of a feminine leadership style. He said, “We’re starting to see a world where vulnerability is valued in the workplace, especially for millennials” which is something that The Hobbs Consultancy has been championing for a long time.
Paul argued that “knock on change in the ad industry will have a knock on effect in wider culture”, and it is because of this that I think we all have a collective responsibility to affect change in our industry.
If you are interested in us bringing the HeANDShe conversation to your organization please get in touch.
(Marketing and Operations for The Hobbs Consultancy)