At the Best Places To Work Awards, a new initiative designed to help improve the diversity of the games business was launched - Putting the G Into Gaming.
The new initiative features a series of action points on how businesses can make themselves more accessible and friendly to women. To tell us more about it, and how it differs from the other women in games groups out there, we spoke to founder Liz Prince.
What is 'Putting the G into Gaming'?
This is a campaign we've launched to focus on accelerating gender diversity in games. Only 19 per cent of the games workforce is female, and of those even fewer are involved directly in developing games. These figures lag way behind the national averages and also other creative industries. Games is such a fantastic, progressive place - but this situation needs to change.
What are you hoping G into Gaming can do?
We wanted to create a campaign with a personality that could drive actionable steps; steps that we can all get behind and make sure that gender balance is top of the board agenda in games firms. The campaign has three main aims - First, to champion women working in games - sharing advice, support, guidance and a platform to network and speak out. Then, to promote diverse thinking, working directly with studios to share our community feedback - offering them tools to attract a diverse workforce and create a gender neutral working environment that's welcoming. And finally, to attract female talent working outside of the industry to encourage them to see games as a career.
Why do you think this is needed?
There are some amazing initiatives across the industry but we kept feeling that, even with this good work going on, gender imbalance is still a huge issue and change is slow. There is a need for a campaign to accelerate gender diversity, so that's what we've set out to do.
Is this initiative run by and for women?
Not at all. Research shows that companies with more diverse workforces are more productive and commercially successful environments, benefitting both women and men. Inclusion creates a win-win situation and we wanted to focus specifically on gender - not because wider diversity isn't important, but because we felt it was right for us to focus fully on one thing.
Why don't studios just hire more women?
Hiring for diversity is a positive decision and takes focus and effort. There is a clear need to make games a go-to career choice for women, and there is work to be done on making the environment attractive for both genders. I believe that companies who are serious about having a balanced work force will make sure they're ready to invite women in.
Don't men and women want the same things in a job - creative culture, top tech and great games?
Men and women are equal but we can't assume their needs and motivations are exactly the same. The experience of men and women in the same workplace can be very different and each gender requires different things from team interactions and studio environment.
"Research shows that companies with more diverse workforces are more productive and commercially successful environments, benefitting both women and men"
For example, one of the big themes to come out of our research so far is that other females working in a business is one of the most important features for women when choosing an employer. Women in senior roles were an engaging feature, but even just another woman present at an interview can have an enormous bearing on how the candidate could see herself fitting in.
Other practical things such as flexible working and a desire to make a working environment family friendly are key. Existing challenges associated with having children still persist, with research telling us that women currently in their 20s are likely to experience pay inequality once they become parents mainly due to a lack of flexible jobs and particularly a lack of flexibility in key technical or senior positions.
According to research by Working Families, six out of ten women will consider childcare responsibilities before applying for a promotion or 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.
If women wanted to work in games there's nothing to stop them applying. Could it be women just aren't that interested in games?
There's 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. Women are more likely to be interested in a position if the language used in a job advertisement is gender neutral. This is exacerbated by the fact that women won't always 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 and would be wasting everyone's time.
We also believe there's a lack of awareness of games as a career path for women and men who don't see themselves as gamers, and maybe have a perception that they wouldn't fit in.
Shouldn't studios pick the best person for the job without worrying about quotas?
Of course, but my point is that if we're not even seeing 50% of the talent community, how can we be sure that the best person for the job is on the shortlist or would even apply at all? We need a choice of candidates and we need to consider how we select people for a role. It's good for all of us to be aware of and to challenge our own cognitive bias. Business leaders have the responsibility to establish processes to ensure there is input and decision making that makes for truly diverse hiring. This is the only path to genuinely finding the best person for the job.
You're in recruitment. Is G-into Gaming part of the Amiqus business?
As a specialist games recruitment agency we take our responsibility for inclusion seriously, but I want to be clear - this is an industry mission, not a business venture. G Into Gaming is a platform open for everyone to contribute positively and become a hub for real ideas, actions and change. I'm a woman in the games industry, this means a lot to me personally and those who know me will be absolutely assured that this is about giving back and playing my part in making a difference.
You've been quoted as saying you've specifically decided not to build a forum for the sharing of bad experiences. Why? I know there are women who have experienced or are experiencing injustices in the workplace. We're not closing our eyes or ears to that, I just want to focus on supporting games in harnessing the best talent by helping create a gender neutral platform welcoming for all. Hopefully there will be cause and effect through doing this.
How's it going so far?
We've kicked things off by asking women who are working in games about how they got here and what they would like to change - that feedback informed our mission objectives
We've focused initially on the third pillar of the campaign, reaching out to 21,000 women who are not working in the industry but have development skills that studios need. We're encouraging them to join our creative community and fast-track their careers in one of the UK's most inspirational industries. We're offering a taster day with studios across the UK to let women outside of the industry experience a studio for themselves and to see how they can fit in to a career where they may have thought it was all about the boys. Just to be clear though - this isn't 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.
So what comes next?
This is just the start. The gender pay gap reporting has heightened awareness of the need for change so we hope to be able to help and bring some ideas to the table. The more people who join in the better. To take part we're online at www.g-intogaming.com, please also join the Facebook group at www.g-intogaming.com/facebookgroup. If you want to talk to me directly I'm at firstname.lastname@example.org.