White Ribbon Ambassador Richie Hardcore delivering Hawkins Toolbox Talk

Late last year we were thrilled to be contacted by construction firm Hawkins with a request to partner with them in providing onsite “toolbox talks” to their teams as they work through a large three-year project at the University of Auckland. The first of this series of talks was delivered by White Ribbon Ambassador and Trustee Richie Hardcore, who is well known for his work as an educator, keynote speaker and activist, working in violence prevention, masculinities, mental health and wellness.
Richie took a casual conversational approach in the session sharing his experiences growing up with an abusive father and what he has learned since. He now understands what leads to someone being abusive, and part of that is the inability to express emotions healthily. When we push our emotions down, in a society that tells us to man up all the time, those emotions will inevitably come out sideways. That is all too often in violence and substance abuse. Richie is committed to doing this work “to help little kids to have better experiences than he did”. He spoke about “the need for us to take the masks off”, noting: “a lot of us grew up thinking we had to be tough, covering ourselves with tattoos, looking tough and buying into those constructs, and we end up punching walls, or people, but that only makes our lives smaller. We often recreate what we grew up with.”
Richie focused on the need to broaden our ideas about what being a real man is. “Being a man is not about being tough, sleeping with lots of women, drinking booze. Being a man is just being a good person.” He offered some strategies for dealing with challenges in a relationship, highlighting the need to de-escalate and walk away.  
Richie’s approach clearly resonated with the people on the Hawkins site and he had a queue of men reaching out for help at the end. Hawkins Quality Assurance Manager Gail Woodside commented: “I don’t think any toolbox in my time at Hawkins (4 yrs) has been as engaging and everyone has taken something away from it.
We are really grateful to Richie for sharing the kaupapa with the Hawkins team in such an engaging way and making time at the end to talk to all those who needed advice or wanted to share their experiences. We also want to thank Hawkins for inviting us. It is fantastic to see businesses reaching out for support to ensure their staff think about masculinity and reassess some of the unhelpful outdated stereotypes that often limit men and harm the women in their lives. If your organization is interested in raising these issues, please contact us to see how we can assist.
For information about White Ribbon’s Workplace Accreditation please email contact@whiteribbon.org.nz or click the link

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