Diversity and Inclusion

Date: 24th March 2021
8:00am - 8:45am (San Francisco) / 3:00pm - 3:45pm (London) / 8:30pm - 9:15pm (Mumbai)

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Our first edition of Fireside Chat saw us discussing the topic - Diversity & Inclusion in Gaming Team and we were accompanied by an industry expert;

Marina Sevastidou

Marina Sevastidou - Senior Human Resource Professional Ambassador at Women in Games

Marina is an experienced Senior Human Resources Advisor skilled in various aspects of HR including HR Operations, Employee Relations, Talent Management, Employee Engagement and Succession Planning. Her career in HR started within the financial services sector, yet she always wanted to work in the tech/gaming industry. She joined Wargaming 6 years ago and since then she is very much fascinated by its pace, agility, constant evolution and most of all its people. She is passionate about promoting the inclusion of women in gaming, as part of her role as Ambassador for Women in Games.

Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace (D&I) is a term you’ve probably heard several times recently. The concept of Diversity and Inclusion has been discussed frequently and gained popularity and headlines. Though there is considerable information about the need or benefits of having a Diverse and Inclusive culture but the industry lacks the means to understand practical means of achieving or introducing the practise.

Further the discussion was commenced out on a few questions related to D&I in the gaming industry. Where Marina shared her thoughts, views and experiences.The questions were directed towards guide to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace (gaming industry) -

1. Initial Steps to Embed Diversity & Inclusion in an organisation

Marina stated the importance of understanding the matter of diversity and inclusion and how it can contribute to every step of the employee lifecycle should be an initial step towards it. In terms of engagement, productivity and enhancing employee retention, the introduction of D&I should be given to the employees starting from the early stages of hiring and applying principles in the process which promotes D&I through different ways. By starting from the hiring process and taking further steps would help to embed D&I in people's way of thinking. Also Marina mentioned that when the Management supports it, one can see a tremendous amount of employees supporting it as well.

2. Key Points to consider for successful diversity and inclusion implementation

To which Marina replied to note the estimation of the implementation. Start by understanding where you stand currently and what are the areas of improvement that could be tackled by speaking to employees, running a survey and trying to get their point of view and experience. Post receiving feedback from the employees, we can analyze and understand the areas to focus on for improvement. The ways to measure and analyze the responses, one can take a look at some statistics - population and demographics in terms of gender, race, age groups and minorities (LGBTQ).

3.Marina’s experience being around D&I in Gaming Industry

Marina shared her experience being a part of the Women in Games Association she has come across a lot of initiatives executed by gaming companies. Various giants, mid and small size companies are performing workshops by experts for their employees. She also shared an example - EA has a diversity council for senior leaders which is embarked by the CEO. Where each branch location is supposed to come up every year with a diversity plan and they set a yearly goal to achieve it for enhancing diversity and inclusion in their company. Initiatives are not just taken in the workplace but also many gaming studios are making efforts in terms of including various characters in the games and making it more diverse and inclusive.

4.Female character representation in games

Marina replied it is evident through a lot of research about gaming companies that genre the female characters over sexualised within games. Though lots of companies are trying to overcome it and make the game characters more diverse and inclusive, so that different audiences can feel inclusive and can connect with the game. Both male and female characters can be successful in games; it's just that they would reach out to different audiences.

5.Initiatives by Government to improve the D&I course

Marina here shared an example of Iceland - they hold a very strong position in terms of the efforts made to achieve gender equality and it has been ongoing since 2000 onwards. They’ve amended various policies like parental leaves for both men and women for equal rights. They also have introduced gender quotas in company boards and public institutions. Recently they came up with a law for equal pay standard which is mandatory to be followed by companies due to which the pay gaps have decreased a lot. The example of Iceland sets a really good role model for other countries and governments to follow.

6.Ways to support D&I in Gaming ecosystem

Marina suggested promoting the participation of women and minorities (race & sexual) through different programs and schemes. One can participate to support and empower them in the industry. Taking initiatives through conferences and collaborating with companies, schools and universities to spread awareness about the reality and what can be done to enhance the representation of such minorities and women in the Gaming ecosystem.

To conclude, Diversity and Inclusion is a crucial topic, which is often overlooked at. Employers and people need to introduce D&I in their organisation as well as society. A diverse and inclusive environment will benefit the organization to build more visionary and ingenious workforce with a strong company culture.