The Global Landscape
The betting and wagering industries have historically fallen behind when it comes to global diversity, inclusion, and equity protocols. However, in the past few years the betting ecosystem worldwide has begun to engage across inclusion with gusto. Programs to facilitate international movement, promotion, and participation in what has become an industry dominated by white men have become more engaging, more visible, and more effective.
The growth in demand for experience ‘outside of industry’ has led global businesses to facilitate graduate program-style periods of employment, where an employee gets the chance to experience different business units, geographies, and departments within the same portfolio to ensure cross-pollination of ideas. These programs give greater access to diverse hires who may not have direct industry experience by providing a training platform to fill in the industry knowledge gaps.
The All-In Diversity Project reports that globally, the proportion of female executives and management positions has improved by 3% over the past two years, with female CEO and Managing Director positions within the space rising from 15% to 18%. The 2022/23 All-Index Report states, “based on current trends it is highly likely that the Women’s World Cup 2023 will be a bigger event for sportsbooks than Superbowl and that betting on women’s sports and female sports-bettors will be the new normal.” The astronomical rise of women’s sport and the presence of women in traditionally male-dominated industries will only serve to accentuate the importance of thoroughly developed DE&I initiatives on a global scale.
It has become more apparent within the talent community that a business that prioritizes diversity is more attractive than one that does not, however, due to SRI’s deep engagement within the gaming community, it has become more noticeable that merely encouraging diversity is not enough to attract top talent. Businesses that have created DE&I programs, on a global or national scale, that truly support the growth of diversity of race, sexual orientation, experience, and outlook, as well as have the frameworks and infrastructure on a personal level to propel the success of these individuals, are gaining traction in the talent market.
This is particularly true for Gen Z who are notably defined by being the most ethnically and culturally diverse generation to date. As a result, they are naturally more aware and mindful of issues surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion and will be more likely to seek out companies that align with those values.
Coming shortly after International Women’s Day 2021, Aristocrat Leisure, the ASX listed gaming behemoth, announced its intention to create a female-focused DE&I program to encourage women to rise through the wagering space, supported by a plethora of processes and international frameworks with key mentors inside and outside the business. The traditional ‘boys club’ has become a space where difference of opinion and diversity of thought is prioritized. It is interesting to note, contrary to what we would have expected 10 years ago, that not a single mention of creating an environment with a softer touch was mentioned. Global summits have become a key method for businesses to engage with their wider employee base, with Aristocrat Together 2023 enjoying the presence of over 1000 employees in their opening address.
Effect on talent
As a result of prioritized diversity across the gaming and wagering space, gender is becoming slightly less of a roadblock within traditional gaming businesses than ever before. At the 2023 MIT Sports Analytics Conference, 38% of the speakers were women, a drastic increase from the 9% in 2012. Whilst this is still less than parity, the inclusion of diversity programs across traditional businesses remains a steadfast game-changer to the wagering and betting landscape.
Across the talent landscape, transparency and a genuine desire to change the outlook for women in wagering remains a key driver for top tier talent movement. Candidates have become increasingly focused upon the culture of a business, however, and they often harbor a deep desire to understand the drivers and motivators for increasing diverse change. Businesses that put the time and energy into creating a stable and supportive environment for candidates of diverse experiences will remain the most attractive landing point.
While a lot of work has been and is still being done around bringing gender diversity to the workplace, it is important to note that there is still a lot of work left to do around inclusion. Bringing women into positions of power is a great achievement but acknowledging that they reach those positions while also family and reproductive health-related challenges is key in retaining them. According to the 2021/22 All-Index Report, “one of the reasons cited for why women are leaving the workplace is menopause”, and “almost 20% state that ill-health as a result of the menopause resulted in them being denied promotion or a pay rise, and a staggering 13% that they had faced a disciplinary process as a result of it”.
Kelly Kehn, Co-Founder of the All-In Diversity Project, said in a conversation with SRI that “the overarching message is that things are changing. People are bought in to the fact that we as a world are 50/50 and we need to get women into more of the gaming space. We see that representation matters.” Some companies “are working toward policies to support those health issues, but most recognize they still need to normalize those conversations with the HR and leadership teams.”
To borrow the mentality from Sky Betting, a world leader in diversity and inclusion in the space, “inclusion is never done”. The continued push for diversity across all levels of business will continue to be a high priority for candidates across all industries. Focused on wagering and gaming as well as technology, the presence of diversity motivations is not enough to attract top talent, but a genuine platform to demonstrate a commitment to creating a better tomorrow will always be a more enticing business to be a part of and to foster a sense of belonging.
The landscape has changed drastically over the past few years, with female representation on Boards in the gaming space closer than ever to hitting 30% and the rise of female appointments at the executive and general management levels rising. In the month of International Women’s Day, the future of women in gaming and wagering and the growth of diversity across the space looks to be in good hands and growing exponentially. Watch this space.