The gaming industry has written the playbook in terms of gender diversity and equality. Ramona Depares catches up with four women who are not letting a double X chromosome stand in the way of rising to their full potential
This article is taken from the 14th edition of SiGMA Magazine which is now available online here.
It’s touted as one of the most inclusive industries in the 21st century, and it’s easy to see why. iGaming is pretty much the Rolls Royce of forward-looking professions, known for creating a community where genderisms – or, indeed, other ‘isms’ – are not a thing.
And yet, here we are, talking about women in gaming. The question begs itself – is there a need for this, or has contemporary life rendered such discussions obsolete? Some great strides have been made, but reality is that there is very much scope for discussion – and, hopefully, improvement – when it comes to the role of gender in any workplace, including iGaming.
The industry is undeniably one of the biggest movers and shakers in terms of promoting values of equality, diversity and inclusiveness. Female professionals have certainly benefited, showing themselves eager to be part of a workplace that places no currency on the X or Y chromosome but, instead, is very much based on meritocracy, passion and initiative.
And it’s not only about embracing a culture of meritocracy. iGaming scores equally high points in terms of work culture, offering unrivalled conditions in terms of flexibility and work-life balance.
Considering that it is often a mix of unpractical working hours and rigid conditions that stop what would otherwise be meteoric rises for many women across many professions, the iGaming ethos has turned out to be a massive game-changer for women who would otherwise be forced to take more of a backseat role in the industry, due to various life circumstances. In short, gaming has created just the right conditions for women to shine, without the threat of unrelated factors impacting their chances of success.
The four women we introduce to you today are testimony that a level playing-field can work wonders in terms of increasing female participation at key positions in the workforce. Which is not to say that there aren’t more challenges to face and overcome, more milestones to achieve. Reading their stories, it is immediately evident that these women succeeded first and foremost because they do not view their gender as a disadvantage, or a reason to impose limits on their ability to rise in their respective areas. They simply set out to do the best job that they could. And, looking at their career progression it is clear that they’ve succeeded.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the gaming sector has written the playbook when it comes to gender inclusion, and this is exactly why it is so important that we keep these discussions alive.
Freedom Van Riel Culture & Inclusion Manager at Raketech
"I started my career in iGaming as Events and Office manager. Since then, I grew within the company and, fast forward four years and I am proud to hold the role of Culture and Inclusion Manger at Raketech group, an award-winning performance marketing company.
"iGaming is a particularly inclusive and forward-looking sector. Raketech transitioned to a fully-remote organisation and now employs over 150 experts working worldwide. I believe that it is vital to create and maintain a strong company culture and a well-connected community, and this has been my experience in iGaming so far.
"Yes, like many other industries I do feel that we see a lack of female presence in senior roles. It would be certainly be encouraging to see this gender gap close in the future, with more female mentors taking up leadership positions.
"But I have to say that I love the sense of belonging the iGaming community creates. Throughout my career I have been lucky enough to have met many interesting and talented people who have helped me grow. This is a major plus point for the industry, I find. There are so many different opportunities to connect, and it makes meeting like-minded people easy."
Anna Falzon - Head of HR at Blue Window Ltd
“I came to iGaming after working for eight years in the hospitality and the legal sectors. I started out not knowing much about the industry, but fast-forward to today and I’m heading the human resources department at Blue Window Ltd, an organisation that specialises in affiliation. It was a very steep learning curve at first, but my focus was on learning and adapting. I certainly wasn’t worrying about my gender, or how being a woman could affect my chances. iGaming is the perfect industry to focus on your skills and abilities.
“Of course, it is a highly-competitive industry, but I never felt that being a woman was a disadvantage. It is not a race between male and female, but a race for intelligence. The industry values people who think outside the box, who can come up with solutions, who believe in themselves and want to make a difference.
“In my experience, being tech-savvy and being passionate about innovation does help. Maybe tech is traditionally more associated with men, and this is where we can work harder, to foster an environment where women, too, are associated with tech. Maybe the challenge is to change society’s perceptions, reminding everyone that yes, women can be whatever they set their minds to, really!”
Alison Brincat - Head of Affiliates at Branders
“When a friend of mine suggested that I apply for the position of affiliation manager at Betfair, I can’t say that I had any specific interest in the iGaming sector – let alone actual knowledge of what the position entailed. But my friend was convinced that the role was up my street, and I went for it.
"As it turned out, he was bang on the money and, 10 years on, I head the affiliates department at Branders. I am responsible for driving acquisition to our casino brands, attracting quality, profitable clients. Of course, I’ve seen the industry change through the years. Maybe at first, women were taken somewhat less seriously. iGaming was still in its infancy as an industry, and – although I’ve never had to face gender-related challenges myself – I have seen this happen to other women within the industry. My bosses have always valued my opinion, and gender is certainly not a consideration for them.
I can truly see a stark difference between the approach here and that in more traditional industries. Which is not to say that other companies and other women do not have their own gender-related challenges. But at the end of the day, the industry itself promotes equality; it lies at the forefront when it comes to setting trends and instilling innovative working cultures.”
Alice Nordin - Employer Branding specialist at Betsson Group
“I didn’t know anything about iGaming before I came to Malta, but since I had a passion for recruitment and talent acquisition, I started working for an iGaming Recruitment Agency. Since then, I haven’t looked back.
My current role at Betsson gives me the opportunity to put on my creative shoes and to come up with new employer branding strategies that help attract candidates to Betsson Group. I would say that probably, women still face challenges at the workplace. If we look at the 2,000 most influential companies in the world, we can see that the majority of their boards and executive teams are dominated by men. This is also reality in the iGaming industry, and applying for those senior roles can be intimidating. Our online gaming business relies a lot on tech, which is also an area dominated by men.
However, if you work for the right company that celebrates inclusion and gender equality, it is easier for women to climb the ladder. In that case, the sky is your limit, and you won’t encounter gender-based challenges. I am proud to be part of such a company. At Betsson, 40 per cent of the workforce are women, and the number is climbing fast. I am also active in our internal network WIBE (Women in Betsson), which aims to empower women in the company to succeed in their professional careers, besides supporting the industry to hire more women.”
About SiGMA Magazine:
The magazine is packed with quality content, interviews and features coming from four different continents around the world - including Europe, Asia, Africa and LatAm. The magazine will be distributed by post to leading gaming and business companies worldwide. Should you wish to be featured in the next issue please contact Katy Micallef.
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