How MasonBreese grew applications of diverse talent from 0-5% to newly 30%

MasonBreese went from having 0-10% female applicants to having 30%. Read what made the difference for them.

A conversation with:

Swithun Mason
Managing Director
Andrea Holle
Andrea Holle
Marketing Expert


MasonBreese Switzerland is a professional digital transformation company based in Zurich, offering services in Change Management, Digital Transformation, and Regulatory Advisory. With over 25 years of expertise, they specialize in creating agile, flexible, and scalable work environments that enhance operational effectiveness through automation, data management, and real-time analytics. MasonBreese operates internationally, focusing on the DACH region and UK, to uncover value within clients' data and processes. For more information, visit their website at


The Challenge: The Quest for Gender Diversity

At the heart of MasonBreese's ethos lay a commitment to innovation and excellence in tech consulting. Yet, a critical issue stood at odds with their values: the glaring underrepresentation of women in their applicant pool, ranging from 0-10%. MasonBreese went from having 0-10% female applicants to having 30% within a very short period of time. We wanted to know why it’s important for them to have women in their teams and how they managed to change their numbers that fast.

The managing director of MasonBreese, Swithung, acknowledged the pervasive nature of unconscious bias and its detrimental effect, stating, "We do all suffer from unconscious bias and it is ridiculous to suggest otherwise." The company was poised to challenge this norm and strive towards a more balanced and fair workforce.

Why is it important to have women in your teams?

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 who 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 have 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.

“We do all suffer from unconscious bias and it is ridiculous to suggest otherwise.”

Swithun JK Mason

Swithun Mason
Managing Director

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.

Things changed.

Using Witty at MasonBreese

How did Witty help you in this endeavor?

So there were a few things: We needed to have some help with 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 that we use as a result of that is important. So, we’ve done some work with this and Witty was really helpful to us on that. 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 recruited a young lady of exceptional ability and qualifications, whom I previously don’t think we would ever have had an application from. And that is to the serious benefit of our company.

Impact of Witty

What was the impact of using Witty on your recruitment figures?

I think it’s fair to say that historically, we used to get 0-10 % of 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 Witty, 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.

“Witty identifies linguistic hurdles in our ads that kept us from attracting diverse talent. We increased the share of applications from diverse talents from 0-5% to 30%.”

Swithun JK Mason

Swithun Mason
Managing Director

What did you particularly appreciate about the help that Witty 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 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 great support; we took that support and used it, which was terrific.

We had specific suggestions on requirements, being limited to a maximum of four. 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 Witty 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. There is no question that we got a straight return on investment in our first case.


  • Addressing Unconscious Bias: MasonBreese recognized the detrimental impact of unconscious bias on their recruitment process. By acknowledging and tackling unconscious bias, particularly in the language used in job advertisements, they made a significant stride toward creating a more inclusive workplace. This approach enabled them to attract a wider, more diverse talent pool, including highly qualified female candidates they previously might not have reached.
  • Expanding the Talent Pool: The company's shift in perspective from questioning the lack of female applicants to understanding the importance of making their roles appealing to women was pivotal. This change in approach, aided by insights from current female employees and external expertise from Witty Works, helped MasonBreese to significantly increase female applicants from 0-10% to 30%, moving closer to their goal of a 50/50 gender balance.
  • Practical Tools and Strategies: Utilizing Witty Works' tools and strategies, MasonBreese was able to refine their recruitment language to be more inclusive and simplified their job requirements to be more accessible. This made their job postings more appealing to female candidates and streamlined the recruitment process, ensuring clarity and fairness in candidate evaluation.

  • Return on Investment: The investment in Witty Works' services proved to be highly beneficial for MasonBreese, demonstrating a clear return on investment through the increased number of qualified female applicants. This success story underscores the value of investing in diversity and inclusion initiatives, not only as a moral and ethical consideration but also as a strategic business decision leading to a more innovative, balanced, and successful team.

Andrea Holle

Community Management at Witty Works | Founder & Director of Mobile Motion Film Festival | Online Communications Specialist | TEDx Speaker | YouTuber | Mobile Filmmaker


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How MasonBreese grew applications of diverse talent from 0-5% to newly 30%

How MasonBreese grew applications of diverse talent from 0-5% to newly 30%

MasonBreese went from having 0-10% female applicants to having 30%. Read what made the difference for them.