Q&A with the 2022 Women in Digital Awards Employer of the Year: GLASS, powered by Hunt & Co.

Q&A with the 2022 Women in Digital Awards Employer of the Year: GLASS, powered by Hunt & Co.

Hunt & Co. was so proud to be a Category Partner for the 2022 Women in Digital Awards, powering the Employer of the Year category – an award recognising the importance of diversity in developing more innovative and inclusive companies to support the future pipeline of women in technology. This year, the Employer of the Year trophy was awarded to GLASS!

If you haven’t heard about the Women in Digital Awards before, let us tell you more! The Women in Digital Awards is one of Australia’s leading national industry awards celebrating women within the digital industries and diversity champions. Created from the idea that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, the WIDAwards is designed to champion women in digital and celebrate digital leaders. From Founder of the Year to Software Engineer of the Year, the Women in Digital Awards provides a platform for women to celebrate their achievements. It is also an opportunity for the digital community to together to recognise the individuals and organisations making outstanding contributions to the industry and improving diversity in digital.

This year, the Women in Digital Awards celebrated its 5th anniversary with a sold-out gala of 1,000 attendees, 68 finalists and 14 winners in Brisbane. Click here to learn more about Women in Digital.

While the judges acknowledged all the 2022 Employer of the Year Finalists are making an outstanding contribution to improving diversity in their teams, the panel were particularly impressed with GLASS’s commitment to championing diversity of all kinds and prioritising culture in everything they do from the top down. With clear goals and vision for DEI, GLASS has attained amazing achievements in building a culturally and gender-diverse team with practical ways to continue this now and in the future. Ultimately, it was not only what GLASS is doing to benefit their own organisation but also what they are doing to benefit the industry that set this finalist apart.

Here’s what Co-Founder Erin McCarthy had to say about GLASS’s win on the night:

We were so excited to catch up with Erin McCarthy and Wayne Custodio, Co-Founders of GLASS to talk all about their incredible achievement!

Click here to meet all the 2022 Women in Digital Award Winners.

Firstly, Congratulations on GLASS taking home the Employer of the Year trophy from the Women in Digital Awards! We are so excited to be chatting with you! Tell us a bit about GLASS.

THANK YOU! Wayne Custodio and I founded GLASS, just over 5 years ago now. We are a unique future-focused management and technology consultancy that adopts a human-centred lens to innovatively solve business problems about people, processes, technology and data across digital transformation projects. We are locally owned and driven by a desire to bring together a diverse range of people committed to changing the way the digital industry works.

We are known and trusted for industry-leading innovation and digital enablement and have an in-house team of over 50 talented consultants, stretching across four different practices: Strategy & Advisory, Innovation & Experience Design (UX/UI), Data & Analytics, and Technology Enablement.

Who doesn’t love a tech founding story! Take us back to the beginning and tell us more about GLASS’s founding story!

We wanted to create a business that was spectacularly unique in the market with a focus on culture and amazing people. Being quick to market with new methods, thinking and ways of working were always going to be our edge which could only be achieved with an authentic and inclusive culture.

Proudly, GLASS kicked off July 1, 2017, with investment from an ASX-listed company. This reduced our risk profile as a start-up to enable us to provide services to the largest and most high-profile companies in Australia. We wanted to create an unrivalled culture, somewhere people just loved being a part of, where everyone contributed to its uniqueness and were able to bring their true brilliant selves to work. I wanted it to be focused heavily on its people, while also delivering innovative consulting services that are first to market with bleeding-edge methods for business strategy.

My fellow Co-Founder Wayne Custodio and I purchased GLASS back in January 2020, privatising the business which enabled us to pivot and adapt to unchartered market conditions during COVID. Thankfully our risk paid off, and we absolutely thrived during that time with our special team.

How did you two know each other before starting the business?

Wayne and I met at a prior employer, and our first experience was collaboratively resolving a customer problem. After successfully delighting our customer, we quickly learned our dynamic was uniquely complementary and something that really worked.

Although we had only professionally known each other for six months, founding GLASS together made so much sense with our shared leadership values and our young families at the forefront of a future we wanted to create.

To this day, we run the business in a shared CEO capacity, bringing a different lens to the table to challenge our thinking with everything we do for our people and our customers.

Why does diversity matter to your organisation?

When we created GLASS, our goal was to create a firm that mirrored our personal values of inclusion, diversity, female leadership, and respect for others. We created a culture that sought to be better than what we had experienced as employees elsewhere in the industry.

Diversity matters to GLASS as it is important that as a human-centred digital consultancy, we focus on the human aspect and celebrate everything that makes people unique, whether it be their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, disability, or any other factor. This is why one of our core GLASS company values is to ‘Be Diverse’.

I believe that we create a safe workplace in which people can bring their entire selves and don’t feel as though they need to hide or shelter their identities. We also realise that creating a diverse organisation offers the opportunity to capitalise upon the strength of proliferating unique viewpoints.

At GLASS, we foster empathy and understanding, so it is important for us to live and breathe a diverse and inclusive team culture as it encourages more listening, acceptance, and welcoming of people and their ideas.

What are some of the targets or objectives you have in place for DEI within GLASS? Do you have an achievement or program you are particularly proud of?

We are constantly reviewing our DEI targets and objectives. The current goals we have set for GLASS are to:

  • Reach 45% female representation across all permanent positions by the end of financial year
  • Finalise our Gender & Inclusion Bias training which will be rolled out shortly in 2023
  • Implement a DEI committee to help educate GLASS on a range of issues and to assist with the development of policies, including;
  • Implementing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)
  • Implementing an LGBTIQ+ Inclusion Plan

In terms of achievements I’m particularly proud of: it’s having nearly doubled the proportion of women at GLASS from 19% in 2020 to 37%, which is an incredible achievement in a traditionally male-dominated technology industry. This 18% increase over two years is an incredible leap, supported by the introduction of enticing Employee Value Propositions (Extended Paid Parental Leave, Work Around the Globe, Flexible Working) as well as a decision to invest in having a Talent Acquisition Lead within the SLT. I’m also really proud that our Senior Leadership Team is 55% female.

From a recruitment perspective, how are you implementing DEI into your recruitment and employer branding strategy?

I think that fostering equality, cultural and gender diversity is a top challenge that many businesses are facing at the moment. Our recruitment and employer branding strategies play a significant role in this regard by focusing on showcasing our very own diverse GLASSians through testimonial videos, peer-to-peer interviews as well as highlighting our diverse team on our website, Linkedin and other talent-facing marketing materials.

As a leadership team, we also ensure that our people are given equal opportunities and are accepted for their differences.

All of the above fosters a safe, secure, and inclusive workplace where people with diverse backgrounds can thrive and I think that shines through with interviewees going through our recruitment process. We also have a range of initiatives that will continue to support and drive DEI at GLASS over the next few months:

  • Implement a Graduate Program, featuring at least 50% female graduates
  • Implement a Family & Domestic Violence Policy
  • Implement bi-annual survey of our staff to ensure the overall happiness and satisfaction of our teams as well as continuously learn how we could be doing better for diversity and inclusion at GLASS
  • Post all job vacancies on diversity job boards
  • Development of quantifiable recruitment targets to present a more diverse/inclusive shortlist to our leaders when recruiting and hiring for positions

How has diversity in your digital teams had a positive impact on the organisation?

I firmly believe that diversity in our team creates an environment that has more collaboration as our people are eager to learn from each other and bring their unique ways of looking at the world to the table. We are living proof that investing in more diverse teams has created better connections and collaboration, leading to a culture that for GLASS has been more open and welcoming. By showcasing diversity, people feel included, safe, and respected to show up as their best selves every day. World Food Day and Wear it Purple Day celebrations were celebrated through our people’s initiative to express their heritage and identity.

All these efforts have led to GLASS being known in the industry for our uniquely diverse consultants, which allows us to connect with clients and potential business partners in a way that forms bonds through shared identity. This has opened doors for our business that may have previously been closed and has enabled us to serve those clients that wish to work with an organisation like ours that has better representation across the board.

And another positive impact is that we believe this diversity and inclusivity have allowed our human-centred approach to flourish which has led to our growth (nearly doubling since 2020).

We know a lot of founders who want to improve DEI within their teams but aren’t sure where to start. What advice do you have for them?

My advice for every organisation is simple: just “please give it a go” and try to improve your business’ diversity, equality and inclusion, which all contributes to such a greater impact on our industry at large.

How? Audit and evaluate your team’s current state situation by gathering facts and figures on the diversity of your organisation, perceived equality and inclusivity. Speak to your team regularly to see how you can improve each variable of DEI and then establish realistic goals for the year and just take it one day at a time. Putting in place goals to strive for is the best starting point and a great way of keeping everyone accountable across the business – we all have to be in it together to make it happen.

Have you encountered any major challenges to improving DEI? How did you overcome them?

Everyone understands how challenging it is to attract female talent within the technology and digital industries. The talent war in this space in Queensland has been further accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability of more skilled migrants to come to Australia. It has been a complex and challenging time. Our recruitment plan over the last two years has focused on recruiting new talent to our industry, a good percentage of our new hires being their first role in digital technology in Australia and we have complemented this by more on-the-job training, a mentoring program and a buddy-up program for peer-to-peer learning.

To enhance our ability to hire not only female talent but also a further diversified team, we have implemented a Flexible Working Policy, a Working around the Globe Policy and a 16-week parental leave policy, on top of showcasing our diverse Senior Leadership Team including 55% female representation and diverse backgrounds.

Moving forward we believe that developing a graduate program that will be made up of at least 50% female graduates will help assist in creating a pipeline for talented young women to enter our business. We believe strongly in helping young women develop their skills under the mentorship of women in leadership positions.

What did winning this Employer of the Year award mean to you?

Being nominated as a finalist alongside the other inspiring companies was already a big achievement for us. It was an amazing moment for myself and all GLASS employees to be recognized for our DEI efforts.

Since the awards, I have been stopped twice on the street by strangers who recognised me from the win and wanted to tell me how amazing what we are doing at GLASS is. Customers congratulating our team and wanting to know more about our successful DEI strategies has been very special as well.

Going forward, I’m hoping we can encourage even more female leaders and diverse consultants of all ethnicities, genders, LGBTIQ+ and technically different to work in technology and to come and join GLASS!

Do you have any advice on how to create an inclusive environment within any workplace?

In any organisation, it is important that the values of inclusion and diversity emanate from the top. Wayne and I encourage all voices within our business and create a safe space for all employees to be their authentic selves. Each Practice Lead and the leadership team also support minority groups, encourage diversity and advancement as part of their professional development planning of their teams and foster positive conversations about inclusion.

We also encourage our employees to attend events that further help in ensuring an inclusive environment at work.

Every little step helps to create an inclusive environment.

We’d love to know what is next for GLASS?

Our ambition is to double in size over the next two years and make the experience of working with us better than any other consultancy in Australia. And I am convinced that diversity is a key lever to reaching this goal!

As a team, we plan to continue to improve the diversity of our different practices and achieve even higher female representation, because we believe our culture will deliver and help drive our future growth and accomplishments.

We also want to chase and deliver innovative projects that nobody else is doing, leaning into bleeding-edge technology and digital solutions, continuing our high-performance culture while making sure that our consultants feel supported and secure.

Is there anything else you would like to add? Any final words of wisdom?

It is totally worth working on your DEI targets and striving to improve your organisation’s diversity, equality and inclusivity. Improving your organisation’s diversity will nurture more creativity, innovation, collaboration and a better, stronger culture… Because as Stephen Covey states “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”

Thank you Erin McCarthy, Wayne Custodio and GLASS! Make sure to also check all of the Women in Digital 2022 Winners here.

If you want to know more about how to build diversity in your team, then get in touch with the Hunt & Co. team today we would love to chat with you! Email us at hi@huntandco.io, or contact us here.

Diversity & Inclusion, Q&As