The figures quoted in the gender pay gap reporting from games companies with 250 or more employees weren't a surprise, but it was also good to see the additional reports provided by many of the companies and the measures they're taking to address their own stats.
My view is that we should see the reporting requirements as a really positive step - an opportunity to measure progress year-on-year and to ensure 'what gets measured gets done' to inspire real action and change. The baseline figures give us a platform to focus on actions that the industry can get behind to make a difference.
It's important to reiterate that gender pay gap is not an equal pay issue. The Equality Act 2010 entitles women to the same pay as men doing equal work in the same employment. This means that employers in the UK are responsible for providing equal pay and ensuring that pay systems are transparent.
All businesses of every size can keep track of any gender pay gaps by comparing the pay of men and women doing the same work, identifying any pay gaps, and eliminating gaps that cannot be explained on grounds other than gender.
In contrast, the drivers of the gender pay gap are typically a lack of female representation at senior levels and in well paid disciplines. This is a time to focus on managing progression, and appreciating that the old challenges associated with having children still persist. This sentiment is echoed by the Fawcett Society telling us that women currently in their twenties are likely to experience the effects of pay inequality once they become parents. A lack of flexible jobs is reported as a key cause of the lower levels of women in senior positions and therefore a key driver of the gender pay gap.
According to research by Working Families, six out of ten women will consider their childcare responsibilities before applying for a promotion or a new job. Truly flexible working arrangements and the improvement of parental benefits can help to attract and retain women and men into parenthood and beyond. Attracting women from outside the industry to games is something we're focussed on right now through the G-Into Gaming initiative. We are raising awareness of the career path in games, especially to those women who don't see themselves as a 'gamer' and maybe have a perception that they wouldn't fit in. We're offering taster days to experienced dev females to see a games studio for themselves.
"The gender pay gap reporting gives us a real opportunity to look at how inclusive our businesses are, looking with fresh eyes at how we're working to attract, retain and promote both genders"
There's lots of great work being done by the reporting companies and across the industry at school and university level which is fantastic. To make a significant and immediate impact on the gender pay gap, however, there's work to be done at leadership and senior level and this is something we're tackling head on. I should make it clear here: G-Into Gaming is not a monetised offering from Amiqus, it's a support structure for the industry. We're looking to attract women in - the rest is down to the studios to impress.
There is also lots to do in the way we advertise roles to attract women, to acknowledge and accept that we're different to men and generally driven by different language. Research by Broadbean suggests that women won't respond to a job opening they don't 100% qualify for, unlike their male counterparts who will apply if they fulfil around 60% of the criteria. A small proportion of women feel that they wouldn't be able to do the job but in the main women don't apply because they don't feel that they will be chosen for the role and would be wasting the time of all parties.
It's also important to recognise that gender bias in job adverts can signal to job seekers that there are gender-related problems in the company (whether or not that's the case in reality). In fields where there is a male bias to the workforce, women are more likely to be interested in a position if the language is gender neutral.
Unconscious bias is a huge topic and one with some amazing research behind it, including studies where the same CV was given to a group of hirers but the names had been changed. It's fair to say that in that particular study those with Anglo-sounding names received the most interest; the names and their associated biases impacted the decisions rather than the qualifications and value the candidate could bring.
It's the same when a candidate reminds you of someone you know, a subtle but real form of unconscious bias. Leaders have the responsibility to see the person as an individual and establish processes to ensure there is input and decision making that makes for truly diverse hiring.
Overall we need to be wary of repeating the same message of 'best person for the job' - when frankly the best person for the job may well not have applied - and if they have, they may not have been able to get through the unconscious bias that met them at interview. Let's accept the issues and take on the challenge.
The gender pay gap reporting gives us a real opportunity to look at how inclusive our businesses are, looking with fresh eyes at how we're working to attract, retain and promote both genders and to start thinking bigger about where we attract our talent and the type of employment models we offer. Let's not be the black cab organisation in an Uber-changing world.