At CES earlier this month, I participated in a panel discussion moderated by Intel Chief Diversity Officer Rosalind Hudnell. Focusing on Intel's recently announced $300 million investment in diversity, the panel included Intel's CEO Brian Krzanich, broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien, and Laura Weidman Powers, CEO of CODE 2040, a SF-based nonprofit working to open doors for black and Latino engineers in Silicon Valley.
The gist of the panel was that diversity is something we need leadership on within the valley and in tech in general. It isn't just something that we *should* do... it's what makes sense for business, overall.
Whenever anyone asks me about diversity and changing the ratio - I use the following analogy - from my friend and longtime mentor Hiroko Osaka, who I met while taking classes at Kellogg back in graduate school. She points out that there are international companies... and global companies. An international company may have offices in Shanghai, Dubai, Los Angeles, London… But a global company has people from all these places at all levels and locations within its organization. Diversity is about becoming truly global in our approach to what we do.
Widening the conversation to include fresh perspectives will improve our processes, our products and ultimately our bottom line. It’s just the smart thing to do. Google’s push to unearth unconscious bias in their hiring, retention and mentoring programs has received national attention. As has their Made with Code initiative, which I am proud to be a mentor for. By making diversity a top-line goal, devoting resources to it, and been relatively open about how and why this is essential to their future success, these companies pave the way for a more balanced, inclusive future. Funomena is proud to be working on these initiatives, and to continue to broaden the conversation so that we push for lasting, positive change.
But it does take hard work! As I also point out in the panel, games are a creative business. And game developers make games because we love them! We will often agree to work on short deadlines and tight budgets to have the privilege of pursuing our passion… which means we sometimes put less time and energy into thinking through the hidden biases in our hiring, retention and mentoring processes (if we have time to think about them at all). To make positive change, we need to make balance & diversity a priority, and pay attention to the details. This means:
Casting a wider net: Reach out to unexpected places for new candidates, instead of just leaning on colleagues or friends of friends.
Broadening our sense of “fit”: Think about the people you hire in terms of all they bring to the table. Prioritize variety in creative tastes, hobbies, personal background and work experience.
Testing & tuning: Leave more time to onboard and mentor new voices. Listen when they give feedback, and tune based to what you see. Design your business like you would design a game - for optimal performance AND enjoyment! :D
At Funomena, even though we are small and bootstrapping - we take the time to have an open, ongoing discussion about diversity. We work to make it a priority even though it may mean we grow more slowly. We gather feedback from our employees, and iterate on our internal processes. Why? Because we believe the effort is worth it - and that we will make better, more creative, more broadly appealing games as a result!