Archives for category: Paternity

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 styleHe 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.

Speak soon

Emily
(Marketing and Operations for The Hobbs Consultancy)

 

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It has struck me recently as absurd the way in which women tell their employees that they are pregnant.  “I’m so sorry” seems to be a common offering.  Both absurd and somehow understandable when you consider the cultural backdrop in the workplace against which the conversation happens.  And yet I think there’s another conversation that needs tackling so that workplaces can become more inclusive – the ‘I’m trying to get pregnant (and I’m finding it really tough)’ one.

The workplace culture currently seems a long way away from this. In a culture that is increasingly competitive and demanding increased resilience, hours and commitment from its people, a focus on something that will one day temporarily take them away from the workplace seems problematic.

Add to this the fact that infertility is a deeply personal subject with huge potential for shame. Our wider culture, if not the culture in the workplace, prizes fertility as part of our gender identity. Not particularly helpful for a man that has been told he has a low sperm count or a woman who has been told they aren’t ovulating regularly. Add to that, talking about sperm, periods, ovulation and so on is just a bit uncomfortable, even with your closest friends sometimes. Of course people might not want to be open about it. It’s a shame storm waiting to happen.

However I’ve come to realize that we are losing out by not talking about this. By keeping silent we lose that opportunity to connect and realise our common humanity.  As soon as one person opens up about a miscarriage, others share their experience.  Suffering quietly means that you lose the opportunity for your peers to connect and support you through a truly testing time.  You create a further stress on top of a pretty stressful situation – trying to keep the appointments and your hurt quiet.  Your bosses continue to hurl work your way and wonder why you’re not too emotionally resilient these days – not realising you’re still coming to terms with the news that it’s unlikely you’ll ever conceive naturally.

And I’m beginning to sense that, through keeping quiet, we are missing the chance to build the kind of workplace that I think many of us would like to see. One in which we encourage people to bring their whole selves in to the workplace. The pressure of keeping your homosexuality to yourself has been well documented in the brilliant book ‘The Glass Closet’. What about the pressure of keeping your biggest disappointments quiet, and instead pretending that everything is just dandy?  Could we create a workplace in which we show empathy and compassion for the struggles in our wider lives? Is it possible to create a workplace in which having children is seen as essential for the human race to continue – and so is welcomed and supported?

I am fully aware that the workplace is not ready for this conversation at the moment. It would be great if more women shared their stories, and yet my call is for a cultural shift led from the top. One of the most memorable moments in my career was hearing a founding partner of one of the top creative agencies talk candidly about her fertility struggle in front of 100 industry women. My call is for leaders to humanize the workplace, to role model having the difficult conversations and to bring in empathy. Let’s create a workplace in which everyone can bring their whole selves in to the workplace and be valued for it.

The Daring Way for female leaders talks about being brave, learning empathy and your purpose in the workplace : http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-daring-waytm-for-female-leaders-tickets-16016355350?aff=ebsavedevents