Kelly Kehn: All-In Diversity – Where we stand on inclusion…

Kelly Kehn – All-in Diversity

This week, employers across the country participate in ‘National Inclusion Week’, which aims to promote wider diversity and inclusion across a number of different sectors. 

For global gambling, All-In Diversity Project (AiDP) continues to work towards establishing more inclusive corporate frameworks and cultures.

Kelly Kehn, Co-founder of All-In Diversity, assess how incumbents have progressed on its inclusion directives, tackling complex issues that challenge the foundations and future development of the industry…

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The last few years have seen the topic of diversity and inclusion go from one company -NetEnt committing to 50% gender parity in 2015 to a topic that is covered in the trade press just about every month. I think we can all accept the business case that workforce diversity is beneficial to a business’s commercial success. 

Just to offer some statistics: Boston Consulting Group ran a study in 2018 that found that diversity is beneficial to your bottom line, 19% more to be exact; while a McKinsey study of 22,000 publicly-traded companies in 91 countries, found that companies with 30% female executives take in as much as 6% more in profits.

And here are the two that get rolled out at every panel discussion on the topic: Gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their non-diverse competitors and; racially diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their non-diverse competition. 

We get it. We want more diversity. Check. And let’s say we get what want. Let’s say the tides turn and everyone wants to work in betting and gaming. Let’s say we wake up tomorrow and we have a workforce that reflects our customer base. Now what? Have we won? Time to put our feet up and watch the profits roll in? All that innovation we were missing, is it on the way? The obvious answer is no but I think a further examination of the topic might reveal where we as an industry have significant room to grow. 

Not only do we need representation, but we need the involvement of that representation in order to be successful. Inclusion is the part where we value the talent at all levels of our business, the part where an employee is contributing positively to the business, the part where he, she (they) is engaged in the work. Inclusion speaks to the very culture of a business and if we don’t embrace the need for change, we suffer when it comes to talent management, profitability, innovation, managing risk and of course, there’s that pesky image problem. 

Are we, as an industry, inclusive? The short answer is not yet. Is progress being made? Yes. Can we be inclusive? Absolutely. Here’s why I think so. 

Let’s start with gender. We as an industry aren’t closing the gender pay gap. In the UK, the median pay gap for the industry is actually up 0.5% and the number of bonuses paid is up 0.4% for men and down 0.4% for women. That said, the number of women at Board and C level is slowly increasing, and conferences and expos are starting to shed their outdated practices and making things friendlier for women in business.

Still, all conferences in our industry still have an overwhelming majority of men as speakers, magazines still favour the male experts, and in a recent article by Ewa Bakun, just 4 of the 280+ startups who have participated in pitches at Clarion events over the years have been female. 

Finally, I recently was part of a discussion about the gender makeup of recruitment databases and in the process of selling their services, one recruiter pointed out that women generally command £20-£30,000 less than their male counterparts so it only makes financial sense. (I’ll pause here and let that one sink in). 

In the 2018 All-Index report on industry workforce, the study revealed that overall, the industry is almost 50/50 male/female. (Box ticked). Look closer though and the roles which carry decision-making power are still 80% male. suggesting that the way we value one over the other is grossly unbalanced. 

I, unfortunately, don’t have as many compelling statistics to demonstrate the same for race, disability, sexual orientation, etc. I don’t hear conversations about how we are falling down in these areas but then again, I don’t see many who may be from these groups. Are we good here? Or is it more that we as an industry we haven’t even begun to address other forms of diversity? 

I can’t say that I’ve ever heard one conversation about making our industry more accessible or how progressive policies like same-sex partner health coverage are game-changers for how we recruit/retain our best. Those points haven’t been raised because we haven’t included these needs as important to our strategy. To my point above, we don’t value the talent equally. 

I said in the beginning of my argument that this industry has the potential to be inclusive and I believe that is the case. In the last 5 years, I’ve seen HR become part of the C-suite and have a say in business strategy. This is the first step in making progress. I see companies investing significant amounts of time and money in learning and development. I see a focus on graduate programs and employer brand. We need the talent and we are young enough that culture shift isn’t undoing centuries of bad habits. 

If I were to end this article with one piece of advice, I’d say this: The companies that are most successful in this area make diversity & inclusion part of their whole company ethos. It’s part of every department at every seniority level. It’s pervasive throughout their culture. They don’t appoint one person to “do D&I” and then walk away with their fingers crossed. The senior leadership makes it part of the culture and part of the brand. If we want to be a better more “inclusive” industry, then we have to work on how we value our talent across the board, how we support everyone (not just the ones who look like a CEO) and how we engage them every day.

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Kelly Kehn – Co-founder of All-in Diversity Project

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