Nicholas Haines is a Kindness Ambassador & Life Architect.
He is an Innovator, international speaker and highly sought-after specialist in recognising each individual’s hidden value and the structures required to support that.
He is also the CEO & Founder of Five Institute UK, which is dedicated to spreading kindness throughout the world, and empowering others to do the same.
Haines is also the creator of the Vitality Test, a unique way to understand what makes you brilliant, extraordinary and flawed, based on 3500-year-old Ancient Chinese wisdom
Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?
As a human being who happens to be a man, I struggle with the injustice that another human being who happens to be a woman is disadvantaged by their gender. The very nature of that situation seems ridiculous beyond words and it that takes my breath away. As such, it’s impossible for me to walk by and NOT support and be part of the United Nations HeForShe campaign.
Another reason I support the campaign is that as the United Nations recognises we’re sitting at a critical and pivotal time for humanity. As a result, there is a requirement to have every human being operating at their full capacity within an environment and culture that supports those actions. Without both genders working together we’re entering very dangerous times indeed! So, I also owe it to the next generation to support gender equality and the HeForShe campaign.
Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?
An obvious reason why men should actively support gender equality is that currently, as we know, men hold more positions of power and influence than women, and as such, they are making the more decisions. So, all men who are in that position of influence need to step up and take a stand for what is right.
Another reason is that our actions as men are observed by boys and young men who are in a process of working out what it is to be a man. If those young men can see older men coming from a place of strength and security, while working towards gender equality, then they’ll have inspiring role models in their lives.
My logic is, that over time by having these good and visible role models doing the right thing, we’ll eventually have less scared and insecure men to perpetuate gender inequality. It’s a long game, but we need all the help we can get!
How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?
I think that depends on where we are talking about, and which men we are referring to. There are situations where men have caused such damage that it’s hard or nearly impossible for women to feel safe enough to allow any man in that conversation or space. Or where a man is so objectionable and insecure that his behaviour leads to conflict and tension within the debate, where we should have mutual respect and meaningful conversations. In both cases, I think men shouldn’t be included or welcomed into the conversation.
Outside those more extreme scenarios, I think that men are surprisingly welcomed into the gender equality conversation considering our history and the way that some men are still desperately trying hang on to their advantage.
Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?
I think that could be an excuse or area of confusion for some men, but most people that listen and engage in the debate will recognise that the use of language like “women in…” or “females in…” is either an indication of solidarity or a sign of the intent to change the status quo.
In my role at the Five Institute, I work with the organisation to develop healthy and supportive cultures. In those discussions and over the last 35 years of private practice I’ve observed a reluctance within some women to ask clearly and fully for all the help and support they need.
It’s possible, and only possible, that we may be seeing that same lack of clarity or a reluctance to ask for help and support within some female-driven networks and groups, which may result in some men not stepping forward.
What can businesses do to get involved in the gender debate?
I’m going to be a little controversial here and suggest that we have a wider issue within the gender debate, and that is the issue of gender itself. Particularly around internal perceptions and assumptions of what is female and what is male in terms of values, roles, styles of leadership, behaviour and the like.
In my role as a Kindness Ambassador, my work is often seen as me portraying feminine values, whereas, in reality, it is me being and playing fully as my personality type and where I add value.
Personally, I think within the gender debate we should put aside gender as much as possible in order to free women to fully express and step into their own style of leadership and working without it being seen or judged as masculine or feminine and similarly for men. Over the last 35 years, I have seen too many brilliant women and men holding back because their brilliance and style of working is at odds with what is perceived to be aligned and correct for their gender.
So, I think businesses and society as a whole have to look beyond gender to create a culture where everyone can be themselves without fear of being accused of being too male or too female or gender references being used as a subtle insult or value judgement. Saying that, it doesn’t negate the fact that across the world we need to tackle inequalities based on
gender and race. I just think we need to be careful with anything that is perceived to be gender specific, particularly in the workplace.
Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?
Yes, I have mentored women, in fact probably 75 per cent of my consultancy has been mentoring women, and have been mentored myself by women. Mentoring women is an area of my work I enjoy, and by all accounts, I provide value and a different perspective on how we can meet our challenges in the world by developing a good internal culture and a sense of self.
Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?
As I write this I am about to fly to New York to speak at the United Nations about how we can create empowered and inclusive change. I am there as part of a collaborative project called The Changes Makers and I will be sharing the stage with four women, and we’re all nervous. The reason I mention that is because, for me, feeling ok with being out of your comfort zone is about seeing the bigger purpose in what you do, as well as operating in a supportive culture.
So yes, I have mentored women that have been less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zone, but only when they have failed to identify or recognise their bigger purpose.
Or because their internal or external culture isn’t supporting them well enough.
In Gratitude: Finally, I want to thank We Are The City for giving me the opportunity to share why I support the HeForShe campaign as well as to explore and share my thoughts on gender equality within the world and the workplace.
Nicholas Haines, Runa Magnus and The Change Makers will participate in the Impact Leadership 21 Conference at the 5th annual Power of Collaboration Global Summit at the United Nations on March 5th, 2018 in a special Call to Action Summary Panel, discussing how leaders can move into action and make the change.