MasonBreese went from having 0-10% female applicants to having 30% within a very short period of time. We asked why it’s important to them to have women in their teams and how they managed to increase their numbers as drastically.
Swithun Mason, Managing Director of MasonBreese: There are three reasons why it’s important to have women in our teams. The first is that if we don’t make an effort to have women in our teams, then we’re going to exclude half the population and that seems like a ridiculous way of limiting the talent pool that’s available to us.
We are a company that wants to be successful commercially, we would like to have access to the very best talent that is available. So clearly that is going to include the whole population for us to choose from if we are sensible. Not half of it, or less. Just having access to all possible talent is an important piece.
Secondly, we have found that women have performed exceptionally well in our company in a sector - we work in consulting for finance and technology - where women are underrepresented. It’s quite surprising to see that they are underrepresented when in our experience, our female staff has performed very well in our company. And therefore we would always seek to have women in our teams.
And lastly but not least, perhaps it’s just a question of fairness. We like to be a good company to work for, a decent employer and it seems reasonable that we would open the doors to welcome everybody when we’re recruiting.
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What generally is the challenge when you try to find female talents?
We thought about this quite hard and actually, I think that the question could be rephrased. The question could be: Why do women not want to come and work for our company? So there is an easy and lazy answer: “We don’t have a lot of female talents in our company because they don’t apply.” But that’s the wrong answer. We need to say “Why don’t they apply?” And when we asked ourselves that question and asked the women who do work for our company, the answers were abundant. Thanks to this we were able to change the way we recruit, the way we talk about ourselves, and such that it was very apparent in our recruitment thereafter that women were applying - and women with serious talent.
So the right question has to be: “How can we make ourselves attractive to a diverse group of candidates when we are recruiting?” And we asked ourselves that question and got some expert help from Witty Works.
You used our tool, the Diversifier. How did the service help you in this endeavor?
So there were a few things: We needed to have some help with the language. Language can be inclusive or exclusive. And it ties right in with unconscious bias. I know that there is quite a strong reaction against the concept of unconscious bias, politically, at the moment. I think it’s unfortunate. This shouldn’t be something that ends up in the current culture wars but it is very deliberately dragged there by certain sectors.
We do all suffer from unconscious bias and it is ridiculous to suggest otherwise.
And the experiments that have been undertaken have demonstrated this categorically. So recognizing our own unconscious bias and the language which we use as a result of that is important. So, we’ve done some work with this and the Witty Works Diversifier was really helpful to us on that. And as a result, we’ve been able to reach talents that we were not otherwise reaching.
We just had a very successful case where we have recruited a young lady of exceptional ability and qualification who previously I don’t think we would ever have had an application from. And that is to the serious benefit of our company.
What was the impact of using the Diversifier on your recruitment figures?
I think it’s fair to say that historically we used to get 0-10 % female applicants to our adverts. We had a job posted in 2020, a technology role and we had 27 men apply and not a single woman. So we’ve always tracked our diversity statistics but not really been very good at dealing with those kinds of figures other than to ask ourselves “what are we doing wrong?”.
Since we used the Diversifier, we think we’re now getting somehow close to 30 % female applicants, our target would be 50/50. We would look to have balanced shortlists when we’re recruiting in such a way that we can just get the best people, irrespective of who they are.
What did you particularly appreciate about the help that the Diversifier provided?
There were several points: The first perhaps is that they helped us explicitly with their online tool. It’s very easy to use and it has got a great algorithm, a really solid algorithm that looks through the words that you are using and identifies when they are unlikely to be helpful and when they are exclusive rather than inclusive. And that’s just straightforward, pragmatic help. They got a great support on the telephone, we took that support and used it, which was terrific.
We had specific suggestions on requirements, being limited to four maximum. Don’t make it too complex, don’t have lots of diverse requirements. And that did help. And then making sure we’re very clear about the recruitment process and the steps the candidates have to go through. That also helped.
Why would you recommend the Diversifier to other companies?
Firstly, we would absolutely recommend it. We thought it was terrific, it was really helpful. But there are some specifics: The investment was worth it. We got a straight return on investment in our first case, no question.
There is also a talent pool that is available via the Witty Works network of good female talent and we will very much hope to be able to access that in the future for our recruitment.
So, 100 % we recommend using the Witty Works Diversifier, I think it’s terrific.