Debugging D&I: How can studios better support their LGBTQ+ employees?

What are your three top tips for supporting LGBTQ staff?

Balance Patch’s Founder Leon Killen

MOR: An inclusive workplace culture is key, and this is achieved through a combination of policy and practice: 

Conduct a review of all workplace policies and make sure they’re LGBTQ+ inclusive. For example, paternity and maternity leave for same-sex couples, guidance on transitioning in the workplace and the presence of gender neutral toilets. 

In terms of practice, enable and encourage LGBTQ+ staff networks, which not only connect and support LGBTQ+ staff, but also ensure there’s space for a healthy dialogue with management.

Finally, ensure that all your training is inclusive of LGBTQ+ people, but also consider having training in LGBTQ+ inclusion, so that all staff are aware of LGBTQ+ issues and how they might affect people in the workplace. 

As a bonus – think about what you can do in the local community to demonstrate your support for LGBTQ individuals.

Michael Othen-Reeves, Creative Director of Included Games and Co-Founder of Out Making Games

LK: Different folks under the LGBTQ+ umbrella have different needs from their workplace. For example, someone who is trans who is beginning their transition will necessarily have different workplace needs than someone who is cis gay or bisexual. 

Some things that workplaces can do right now is to call out overt or casual homophobia, biphobia and/or transphobia when it happens.

Related to the above, support from Senior Management and C level staff is critical. So if you’re in a leadership position affirm and regularly reaffirm your commitment to your LGBTQ+ staff and to making the company a place where they are accepted and appreciated for who they are, and state clearly that discrimination has no place in your working environment.

Additionally, include your LGBTQ+ staff’s voices in conversations about benefits and workplace changes that may affect and impact them. Far too often people with very good intentions focus on making changes that are incredibly low on the list of what LGBTQ+ need and forget to consult with them.

Do you think that discrimination against this group exists in games?

MOR: Unfortunately, there’s still a prevalence of racism, misogyny and homophobia in certain online gaming communities. I believe this comes from a place of ignorance and lack of education. Games have a responsibility to better represent the diversity of their players, in turn promoting better tolerance and understanding. This can be done in so many ways, but it needs to start from within – that is to say, the teams making the games. A lack of diversity leads to a lack of diverse ideas, or failure to understand good representation. Therefore, actively recruit with diversity in mind, and support and listen to your diverse employees. This can be done to great effect – as anyone who has played The Last of Us Part II can attest! 

What organisations/initiatives would you recommend?

LK: Out Making Games aims to connect and empower the LGBTQ+ community working in the games industry across the UK.

Gendered Intelligence is a trans-led and trans-involved group who offer a broad spectrum of practical services that enable organisations and individuals to increase their understandings of gender diversity and become more trans inclusive in their working lives / professional settings.

Gay Gaming Professionals is the largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender game industry professionals and enthusiasts from around the world with a mission to promote, cultivate, and unite the professional LGBTQ+ community, with results-based content and programs focused on education, expertise, employment and entrepreneurship.

Industry Gayming is a magazine for global LGBTQ games professionals and routinely features advice and guidance for professionals in the industry, as well as showcasing individuals in games who are working hard on improving EDI and LGBTQ+ experiences in video games.

Balance Patch is my own advice and support service specifically targeted at the video games industry. I work with studios on a wide range of topics including, but not limited to, policy creation and editing, workshop delivery, content advice, ERG support, leadership training, and more. Much of what I do is bespoke and dependent on the unique mood, personality and needs of the studio.

Can you explain the use of pronouns, and why it’s so important to understand them – and use them?

LK: We all use pronouns, especially in English, and use them constantly. For those of us whose gender doesn’t match the one we were assigned at birth – trans people, non-binary people, genderqueer, genderfluid and so on – we often undergo an experience where at some point we realise that even basic sentences are uncomfortable and painful when our old or incorrect pronouns are used.

As an example, while I spent the first 21 of my life as a woman, when I began to understand myself as trans – and specifically as a transman – talking to people became more and more exhausting in ways I had not anticipated or expected before whenever someone ‘she’d’ me.

One of the best things you can do as an ally is to use the pronouns someone has asked you to use for them, but also check to see if they would like you correct others if they hear someone using the wrong pronouns or misgendering someone, because they may not want you to do that for them – always check in first.

About Chris Wallace

Chris is MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer, joining the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can regrettably be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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