By Yumi Oishi, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
“We in the games industry have enormous power and responsibility in defining what is normal and what is acceptable. It all starts with building diverse and inclusive game companies.”
With these opening words from our Chief Sustainability Officer Heini Kaihu, we hosted a panel discussion on how to build such companies at the RovioCon conference hosted with Google on 16 November. We were joined by Carolin ‘Caro’ Krenzer, CEO and co-founder of Trailmix, Saara Bergström, COO of Next Games, and Petri Hyökyranta, CTO of Rovio. If there was one thing the panelists and moderator had in common, it was their strong passion that Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) is not only personally important, but a business imperative in the games industry.
Each panelist shared specific examples on what they or their own organizations are doing to become more diverse and inclusive. Here are some key takeaways:
- Saara shared how Next Games has an employee-led, leadership sponsored Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) Working Group that is set up in a way that allows employees to carve out their working hours to do DIB work. She also talked about having set an aspirational goal to achieve a 50% non-male identifying workforce by 2030. Another practical example she brought up was looking at diversity representation when reviewing pay and promotion to check for potential biases together with the Leadership Team.
- Caro shared how she has been clear about what she believes in, which has allowed her to attract those who also wish to make games for a diverse audience. In her own words, “We were very honest about what we wanted to do, what we wanted to achieve and what kind of games we were going to make. So the people who wanted to join us and wanted to invest in a company that has a female CEO were the people we wanted to bring onboard. Those who were put off, weren’t.”
- Petri talked about creating psychological safety within his team by being genuine, authentic and sometimes even vulnerable. He shared, “We all struggle at times and lots of self reflection is needed so that is why I decided to come here [on stage] and do my best.” He added that having a genuine and authentic story is important to attract diverse talent, especially since the talent market is competitive.
In the closing section, we asked each panelist to share one concrete action or advice for other leaders in the industry. Here is what they had to say:
- Saara: “Set yourself a goal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but goals are important. Otherwise, you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve and you won’t know how you’re doing.”
- Caro: “Don’t be afraid! I feel that we as an industry are a bit afraid to put the audience off. In [our hit game] Love & Pies, we have a very strong representation of the LGBTQ+ community and retention is absolutely amazing. It’s what makes Love & Pies stand out.”
- Petri: “As a leader, we should have an impact on people’s lives, especially the team members so they feel proud about being part of the company. We should openly talk with our direct reports so we can self-reflect and raise our self-awareness about how they are really feeling.”
Thank you Caro, Saara, Petri and Heini for sharing your time and expertise! As we continue on our DEI journey, we’ll keep sharing our learnings externally like this recap. Only by sharing and working together can we see the change we fiercely want.