Gender pay gap grows in gaming industry, international study finds

Gender pay gap grows in gaming industry, international study finds

  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports
November 18, 2020 8:30 PM
  • Mark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports

Although women make up nearly half of gaming industry employees, men still tend to get higher positions and better pay, says a multinational diversity study released Tuesday.

Nonetheless, companies have made a “huge leap” over the past two or three years in recognizing increased diversity as essential to their success, said Kelly Kehn, co-founder of the All-in Diversity Project, which did the study. “Now we’re at the ‘how,’” she added. “That’s where a lot of businesses are getting stuck.”

This is the second All-index annual report by All-in, a nonprofit organization based in London and funded by a variety of gaming industry companies. The study is based on data from 26 organizations with operations in the United States, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Together, the 26 organizations have almost 126,000 employees and more than 150 brands.

All-in founders Kelly Kehn and Christina Thakor-Rankin

The study, completed just before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, reflects data from late 2019 to early 2020. A report planned for early next year will address pandemic-related job losses, as well as changes in policies, such as flexible hours, remote working, and sick leave.

Christina Thakor-Rankin, the other co-founder of All-in, said the 2021 report will also cover broader issues. For example, it could examine whether the virus’s more serious impact on some populations alters workplace dynamics or whether it leads to two new classes of workers, those with the “luxury” of working from home and those without. “(COVID) makes us change the way in which we think about work,” Thakor-Rankin said. “There are a lot of unknowns.”

The just-released report found that women hold 46.7 percent of gaming industry jobs, but their presence falls sharply as responsibilities and salaries increase. Women account for:

  • 48 percent of entry-level employees up to team leader or supervisor
  • 34 percent of supervisors or team leaders
  • 39 percent of managers overseeing team leaders or supervisors
  • 26 percent of department heads
  • 23 percent of director/vice president/partner or C-level positions
  • 15 percent of CEOs or managing directors

In addition, the study declares, “The gender pay gap is real and, if anything, appears to have widened” since the 2018 report.

The survey asked participants to report the number of employees by gender within seven salary ranges, from less than 25,000 of the local currency to more than 200,000 of the local currency. In 2018, the number of men and women were basically balanced in the two lowest ranges – less than 25,000 and 25,000 to 50,000 – and men dominated the other five. In 2019, men outnumbered women in every range.

About 12 percent of women employees made 50,000 or more a year, while 25 percent of men did.

Only four companies said they provide support groups or additional training and development for staffers in ethnic, minority, or other under-represented groups.

Almost all respondents said they have a formal equality/anti-discrimination policy, but less than 70 percent said they offer training on it, down from about 90 percent in 2018, the report says. However, almost three-fourths said they offer training about conscious and unconscious bias, compared with half in 2018.

Kehn said the All-In project holds up a mirror for the industry to see overlooked issues. “Until you can measure what’s actually happening, you can never pinpoint those little nuances that might be in place,” she said. For example, the report shows sportsbooks are the industry’s most male-dominated sector, with men holding 91 percent of the jobs. “Maybe we should look at the way we hire or perhaps in the way we retain,” she said.

When the project started in 2017, few in gaming talked about diversity.

“Only three years on, the business case is irrefutable,” Kehn said. “If (companies) want to be successful, if they want to be sustainable, if they want to be good corporate citizens and build that employer brand, diversity/inclusion is a big piece.”

She said executives should know their company’s gender pay gap and recognize policies or assumptions that work against certain groups. “We’re not trying to say everything needs to be 50-50 or equally balanced,” Kehn said. “What we’re trying to say is that there are tools for businesses that want to be more diverse and inclusive.”

Companies can sign up for the COVID-19 survey through All-in’s website. The COVID survey is free; the annual benchmark survey has a one-time $500 administrative fee.

“The more (participants) we get,” Kehn said, “the clearer the data, the clearer the picture becomes, and the more we can help the industry as a whole progress.”

Mark Gruetze is a veteran journalist from suburban Pittsburgh who covers casino gaming issues and personalities.