In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re showcasing powerful women who are breaking the bias in a meaningful way. What better way to start the conversation, than with none other than our Owner & Director, Lucy Henry-Hicks. We sat down with Lucy to hear more about her story, what breaking the bias means to her and how she continues to break the glass ceiling for herself and her community.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to be where you are today?
I'm the daughter of two successful retailers, both my mum and dad owned and ran fashion retail businesses since before I was born so I grew up in and around the industry. My first job was serving customers in one of my dad’s stores at age 10. Throughout my 20’s I partnered with my mum as we built the DISSH business together.
In late 2019, I became the sole owner & managing director of DISSH and led the brand through a major evolution. In short, we pivoted almost every part of the business, from product mix to brand aesthetic and market position, to create the DISSH brand you see today. It was a big gamble at the time but one that has paid off. Since then, we have kicked some incredible goals and I honestly wake up every day excited for what’s next.
What gave you the confidence or self-belief to step into the role of Managing Director, taking on the tough and the rewarding parts of the job?
Responsibility and hard work have never intimidated me. I have my mum to thank for instilling a strong sense of confidence in me and showing me that I could have it all if I was brave enough to go for it.
Deciding to separate from a long partnership with my mum and go my own way was always part of my plan. I’ve always been very clear on my vision for what I want and where I want to go in business and in life, so this is just another chapter in hopefully what will be a long and meaningful career.
What does ‘breaking the bias’ mean to you?
Firstly, I want to acknowledge that there is so much inequality in the world right now, and so many people and communities in need. In saying that, this doesn’t take away from our why. As a business that is 90% women, we are completely behind this year’s International Women’s Day focus. We are passionate about highlighting the challenges still faced by women in the workplace and society while we continue to learn and how we can use our platform for positive chnage.
This year’s IWD theme of breaking the bias is a great one, as biases in the workplace are still alive and well. For me breaking the bias means equal opportunity. It means that there are no barriers to anyone identifying as a woman growing and developing herself, personally and professionally. There are no barriers to the career opportunities on offer to her and to the success she can achieve. She has choices – and she has the power to create a life by her own design.
When it comes to women in business, what do you think is the greatest barrier or bias?
The difficulty my friends and peers face when trying to re-enter the workforce after starting a family continues to surprise (and upset) me. It’s devastating and equally infuriating to think that these women have to sacrifice a career they’re incredibly passionate about due to a lack of adequate government and workplace policy support to make being a working mum feasible.
Is there anything that you are personally or professionally working on to continue evolving and ‘breaking the bias’?
The re-introduction of our Encoreship is very exciting, I can’t wait to meet our new encorer and help her upskill, build confidence, create connections, and feel set up for future aspirations.
I am also journeying down a new path this year – my husband and I are expecting a little girl in August! I hope to be a role model for my own daughter, bringing her into a world full of open doors and showing her that she can be anything she wants to be.
I am passionate about continuing to evolve our return-to-work policies for working mums, and champion better government support for families.
DISSH is made for the modern woman, with designs that are conscious, distinct, bold, and forward thinking. How do you think DISSH is ‘breaking the bias’, and leaning into a bias free culture and community?
The ethos, “girls can do anything” has always been at our core. We have females kicking goals in typically male roles, we have favoured promoting from within giving women the chance to progress in their career even at times when they might not have been the most qualified. We pride ourselves on flexible return to work policies for our working mums.
COVID put unprecedented pressure on families and working women globally. Emerging data suggests that women have been disproportionately affected, with 61% of job losses in Australia experienced by women. To be part of the solution, we have partnered with likeminded brands to participate in the Encoreship initiative. The Encoreship provides us with the framework to take meaningful, practical actions to create a lasting impact on the lives of women seeking to re-engage in the workforce. After an incredibly successful placement in our People & Culture team last year, we are very excited to welcome back this initiative for 2022.
DISSH is also a proud partner of Suited To Success, a not-for-profit community organisation that helps women overcome barriers to employment. The work they do to support and empower women in need is incredible.
As a female business owner & director, what drives you?
I am personally driven by the opportunity to grow as a person and a leader. I strive to show up as the best version of myself and am motivated to provide the community I lead with opportunities to do the same.
We now have a team of over 200 people who are mainly women, and we are passionate about providing our team with access to a number of initiatives that give them the opportunity to challenge themselves.
One of those is in Brene Brown’s Dare To Lead Training Program, a major initiative we are rolling out across the business. The training is designed to build EQ and teach the skills that underpin courageous leadership. It's been inspiring to witness how this work has already positively impacted our people & organisation.
Lastly, what lights you up about the work you’re doing?
Creativity on all levels is my fuel. Getting in a room and collaborating on ideas with my team really lights me up. DISSH has already appeared on the streets of London, New York, and Paris – I just can’t wait to see what corners of the globe we are able to reach next!