All-in Diversity: Inclusivity is a core dynamic in gambling’s new decade

Industry non-profit All-In Diversity Group (AIDP) will celebrate its third year in operations at ICE 2020. Founders Christina Thakor-Rankin and Kelly Kehn told SBC how workplace diversity and inclusivity has risen in significance amongst industry governance ranks, whilst All-In research has disclosed vital findings on corporate culture and industry peculiarities.

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SBC: One of the industry’s younger organisations AIDP was initially launched at ICE 2017 to promote workplace diversity and inclusivity amongst industry incumbents.

How has AIDP founding remit changed in the past three years, and how are industry leaders reacting to complex diversity and inclusivity?

Christina Thakor-Rankin: I don’t think our founding remit has changed – we’re still about providing a platform for discussion and being the central resource for all things EDI related. What has changed is the scope. People and organizations have finally woken up to the business case for diversity – especially in areas such as innovation and internationalization. We are also in the process of developing the world’s first standard for workplace diversity and inclusion in partnership with the BSI, due for publication in 2020 and which takes us beyond the betting and gambling sector.

Kelly Kehn:  The scope appears to have drastically changed with a much stronger focus on inclusion: Businesses are aware that D&I is good for the bottom line. It’s now about how we get there and how we can support our entire workforce and value individuals equally.

SBC: As an organisation promoting the complex dynamics of diversity and inclusivity, do you feel that you have achieved your founding objectives?  

KK: We are industry-led and as long as the industry needs the tools to be more diverse and inclusive, and is working to be better, we’ve got work to do. Our original and main objective has and will always be to create the tools the industry needs to be more diverse and inclusive.

I’m proud to say that we’ve created an indispensable tool with the All-Index – An annual report on the betting & gaming workforce that not only paints a picture with demographic data but measures the effectiveness of practice and policy around the world. We will continue to produce tools/toolkits as the needs of our customers evolve and our data highlights areas for improvement. 

CTR: We have started but still have a long way to go. Our aim has always been impactful change and that takes time and key decision-makers and organizations to consciously decide to change the way they think about ‘talent’.

SBC: Over the past three years, working with leadership on the board scope of workplace diversity and inclusion what industry intricacies and peculiarities do you feel you have uncovered? 

CTR: For an industry that prides itself on being an early adopter of trends and technology it can be particularly stuck in its ways when it comes to its people. Decision-makers tend to hire in their own image and with too much emphasis on ‘experience’ which means we end up recycling talent, increasing payroll costs and entrenched thinking – explaining the lack of any real innovation and a failure to engage effectively with a new generation of players.

KK: Yes! The lack of new talent into the pipeline is staggering!  I would also say that we are well ahead of other industries in terms of certain practice such as flexible working.

SBC: As an industry discipline, what do you believe is still misunderstood about diversity and inclusivity, and how does this impact day-to-day operations? 

KK: I think it’s often ignored that D&I should be part of the entire business’s culture. It’s not just a job for HR, everyone needs to understand the importance and cultural relevance. I think this is the single-most overlooked part of effective D&I implementation. If your middle and senior managers aren’t on board, do not understand why diversity and inclusion is important TO THEM and are jaded by things like unconscious bias training, 360 reviews, etc. you’ll never get where you need to be. D&I affects EVERYONE, not just underrepresented groups.

CTR: I think some of it goes back to the point above, but for the rest I don’t think it’s misunderstanding – the business case for diversity is a no-brainer – its understanding how to change without impacting day to day operations or the bottom line. This is an industry where change comes at a cost, but it doesn’t have to – and we can help any organization that wants to be more inclusive but isn’t sure of what this means or where to start.

SBC: For a leadership and talent perspective, has reporting on workplace diversity improved and become more transparent, or is this still a delicate matter for incumbents?

CTR: We’re only at year 2 of the All-Index so everyone, including us are still getting their head around what information is OK to capture, what isn’t and what falls in between. There is also the challenge of how you measure intersectionality e.g. someone who identifies as mixed-race LBGT+ how do you measure this?

KK: I think the fear is easing off and people are more willing to speak about issues openly. This year, we’ve had several businesses ask if they can promote their participation in the Index regardless of their score. As Tina mentions, intersectionality is a key issue which is a main driver for us to focus our measurement on the inclusivity side of things rather than trying to put a label on everyone.

SBC: Returning to ICE2020 you are launching your #OpenDoors campaign. Can you detail initiatives, and are you worried that this campaign could be drowned out by frantic ICE activities? 

CTR: We’re always going to be competing for air space, but we believe that what we have to say is probably more relevant to the future sustainability of this industry that most things. Right now this industry needs inclusivity more than most. We have a real reputational problem right now and unless we do something to address this by embracing the wider world we’re done.

KK: We’ve been saying for a long time that the industry needs a visual representation of support for the workforce globally and ICE is the right stage to launch this campaign. Some businesses support us and the Project but there are even more individuals who want to get involved. This is just the way to involve as many supporters and industry professionals as possible.

The idea behind #Opendoors is simple. If we really want to progress and be a more diverse and inclusive industry, we need to recognise that we did not get to where we are in our career without the help of someone along the way. By thanking someone who helped you, you are also pledging that you are willing to hold the door open for someone else who might need it. When we recognise that we didn’t get here alone, we are also recognising some people do not benefit from that support because of assumptions, bias, etc and immediately become more conscious of our differences.

  1. Thank someone who has supported your career on social media (hashtag #opendoors)
  2. Pledge to hold the door open for someone else
  3. Wear your pin badge at ICE.

SBC: Finally… 2020 sees gambling enter a new decade, how do you feel that gambling incumbents will be reshaped or reconfigured as workplace entities?

CTR: The biggest drivers of change will always be regulation and public opinion in this industry. Right now, the tide is very much against us and will continue to be unless we do something to change it. The old ways aren’t working any more – we need to take a new approach that shows the world that we can be a responsible guardian for one of the oldest activities known to humankind.

KK: I think the biggest lesson we’ve learned and proven since we’ve launched AIDP is that collaboration works. If we don’t work together, we’re never going to improve our image, hire better, be more responsible and sustainable or be better. I think the next decade will see a bigger focus on more transparency and collaboration and those entities willing to change will benefit.

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