It gives me great pleasure to be writing this piece for Clubs Insight as the inaugural CEO of Women in Gaming Australasia (WGA). This marks an important step for WGA, since its launch in May 2017, with the focus now on building awareness, attracting additional corporate partners and helping men and women reach across the gender divide.

I join WGA with a background in gaming having worked as Director of Financial Planning and Analysis at Wynn Macau, Vice President – Strategic Analysis at Sands China, and most recently as Vice President – Casino Development and Strategic Analysis at Marina Bay Sands.

Fostering a positive culture in the workplace that encourages employees to bring their best self to work is key to building a motivated and engaged workforce – and for women, this has never been more important.

As a female in the gaming industry, I know first-hand the benefits that female representation and women in leadership roles brings to business. Reflecting on my career, there were no initiatives like WGA and I wish there had been. An organisation like WGA would have been of great benefit and would have played an important role in my career, and I’m sure the careers of many others as well.

WGA is a not for profit entity dedicated to empowering women working in, or seeking to work in, the gaming industry. WGA has a purpose to remove barriers and increase opportunities for the advancement of women in the workforce. WGA will focus on achieving this by:

  • Providing professional development to our members
  • Raising awareness of women’s contribution to our industry
  • Uniting with industry associations
  • Creating common meeting grounds for diversity initiatives
  • Identifying and removing barriers to gender diversity, especially unconscious bias.

There is still work to be done to increase female representation in leadership across all industries within Australia, but the gaming industry statistics are particularly sobering:

Managers Gaming All Industries
CEO 7.1% 16.5%
Key Management Personnel 20.8% 29.7%
Other Executives/General Managers 28.6% 30.4%
Senior Managers 30.3% 34.9%
Other Managers 32.9% 41.9%

Source: WGEA 2017 report on Gambling Activities Industry.

Furthermore, the above statistics only provide a glimpse into how our industry is performing. Gaming, as we all know, includes many other industry groups and the above statistics do not include Pubs, Taverns and Bars and exclude most gaming manufacturers. I will endeavour to get a comprehensive picture of our industry as a whole as part of the work of WGA, so we can collectively track our progress as we all work collaboratively to close the gender gap.

Research from Diversity Council Australia into Gender diversity has indicated that “businesses can experience a range of benefits from a workforce which is inclusive of women. These benefits include; improved financial and operational performance, the ability to meet skills shortages and capitalise on available talent pools, improved market reach, reduced expenses associated with employee turnover and recruitment, enhanced innovation and group performance, while also minimising legal and reputational risks.”

Moreover, Catalyst found that “companies with more women board directors, especially those with three or more women board directors, had better financial performance than those with the fewest women board directors. Gender diversity on boards is connected with better corporate governance and board oversight and less unethical behaviour.”

In 2011, I became part of the Las Vegas Sands’ Global Gaming Executive, invited by Rob Goldstein who was then the President of Global Gaming Operations. The group comprised of ten executives, and not only was I the only female, I was also Australian. Having diversity of gender and culture at the table meant the group could cultivate diversity of thought and move away from ‘groupthink’.

Different experiences shape how we think and research shows that diversity of thought leads to better business outcomes. I experienced this first hand within Global Gaming Executive and my addition to the group brought a different point of view, a different type of decision making and boosted innovation and creative problem-solving.

We all need to invest in promoting diversity and inclusion within our workplaces. Gender diversity is not just a women’s issue; it’s a business issue.

WGA hosted professional development workshops called “Step Forward” in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Melbourne during April. WGA is excited to announce another “Step Forward” workshop, this time focusing on networking and how to be an effective networker. Join us on Thursday 5 July at Southport Sharks on the Gold Coast from 4:30pm for Learning to Love Networking. Although many people fear networking, successful networking is a skill that can be taught and this workshop will offer a systematic approach for confident networking. Attendees will analyse their existing networks and learn techniques for effective networking.

Let’s get serious about increasing female representation in leadership and closing the gender gap in Gaming.