Over 6 million U.S. men suffer from depression each year, yet many do not seek outside help.
Men are less likely than women to seek mental health treatment for issues like depression and substance abuse due to a reluctance to talk, downplaying their symptoms and social norms, according to Mental Health America. Since its founding in 2013, e-commerce company Harry’s has been on a mission to change the status quo.
Harry’s aims to get more men access to mental health care through its philanthropic efforts and partnerships with nonprofits. Its partners offer mental health resources to men across a number of demographics, including those who identify as LGBTQ, veterans, those facing homelessness and more.
Around two years ago, Harry’s created a Head of Social Impact position held by Maggie Hureau, who previously worked at the nonprofit City Year. During her employment there, Hureau actually partnered with Harry’s team and witnessed the retailer’s commitment to social good before joining the company officially.
“Working on corporate partnership teams at City Year, I got access to companies — including Harry’s — in the corporate philanthropy landscape,” said Hureau. “I saw firsthand how committed Harry’s was to giving back when I was a partner to the company for over four years.”
When Hureau joined Harry’s team, she said it was apparent that their social mission was integral to their brand positioning.
“But the company needed someone full-time to ensure we were truly making an impact through our non-profit partnerships,” Hureau said. She was a shoe-in.
Hureau said her corporate-facing role at City Year helped her understand what real impact looks like and informs her work at Harry’s. Today, a vital part of Hureau’s job is geared toward getting employees excited to volunteer. We recently caught up with the leader, who shared the story behind the company’s prescient philanthropic mission, and how she encourages team members to get involved in the cause.
What are some of the high-level goals of your position?
I get to lead the company’s social impact work and think about how we do better in the world. Social impact here is comprised of two main areas. First and foremost, we donate 1 percent of sales — not profits or proceeds — to nonprofits that are helping us reach more men and give them access to the mental healthcare they need. We began this practice within a few months of launching Harry’s. With Flamingo, our women’s brand that launched last year, our focus is on helping women have better relationships with their bodies.
Second, social impact at Harry’s is about encouraging our team to give back in the community, so we provide them with what we call “High Five” time: five paid days to give back to non-profit organizations and causes they care about.
Harry’s non-profit partnerships
Why is mental health a central cause for Harry’s?
We decided to focus our giving efforts on mental health because of the outdated expectations around what it means to be a “man” — stoic, unfeeling, unflappable and therefore, unable to ask for help. By focusing on an issue that we personally care about, and one that directly impacts the customers we serve, we believe we have a social mission that makes sense for our business and has a real impact in the world.
How exactly does Harry’s support that cause?
We partner with non-profit organizations that are giving men access to mental health services every day. Our eight partners execute projects addressing access to mental health care at nearly every stage, from prevention through crisis management. Our partners serve men that are at particular risk: veterans, folks who identify as LGBTQ, those suffering from homelessness in the United Kingdom and younger men. We set a lofty goal to reach half a million men with their help by January 2021 and we’re nearly halfway there.
How do you motivate teams to give back?
We’ve built a culture and brand based on giving back and our team really buys into our “High Five” program. This past year, we created a High Five Ambassadors program where five employees worked with me to develop high-impact volunteering events for the entire team. Not only did that help in event planning and management, but it built up the energy around the program as a whole.
The ambassadors also kept an eye on how teams wanted to give back. So we were able to develop diverse experiences, proving there’s a volunteer experience out there for anyone.
What success has the department seen in getting staff to give back?
In 2019, we volunteered more than 1,500 hours to non-profit organizations around the city. And through our giving, we’ve donated $3.6 million to men’s mental health, reaching nearly 200,000 men and ensuring they get access to the care they need.
It’s inspiring to see so many people want to do good in the world, and I think that’s reflected in the warm, generous and supportive company culture here.