Debugging D&I: Voice at the Table on the importance of diversity

Rina Goldenberg Lynch, Founder and CEO of Voice At The Table, talks to Amiqus’ Business Manager Liz Prince about why diversity matters, while offering some valuable advice to studios…

Rina Goldenberg Lynch, Founder and CEO of Voice At The Table

What would you say to a studio manager or owner who doesn’t see any benefit in D&I?

The business case for Diversity and Inclusion is now overwhelming, so if someone doesn’t see it, I interpret it as not wanting to see it. Typically, this happens when things are still going well, and the need to ‘break’ or change’ the existing culture doesn’t appear to make sense.

But those with a vision for the future understand that a business that wants to survive and thrive has got to start the journey towards greater diversity and inclusion now. In fact, if they have not yet started this journey, they might start feeling the squeeze very soon. Particularly when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent, diversity and inclusion play a huge part. Today’s and tomorrow’s talent want to work for a business that’s dynamic, creative, innovative, vibrant and ethical.

And then there’s the audience, of course. Any business that wants to grow or diversify its client base has to create games that appeal to a greater pool of customers. And that’s difficult to achieve if you don’t know what they want. A diverse and tuned-in (i.e. inclusive) workforce will be more empathetic and hence, will be able to better-relate to a more diverse audience – and therefore deliver a more diverse product.

Some might see D&I as ‘window dressing’. What are your thoughts on companies which aren’t entirely authentic about D&I?

Window dressing is, frankly, a waste of resources. These are ad hoc, often quite expensive, initiatives that don’t change the culture and, as a result, fail to make use of the diversity that they might attract.

The whole point of initiatives like inclusion is to allow a business to tap into the diversity of its people, to benefit from their divergent thinking and insights. That is where the benefit of a diverse workforce lies.

If a business is putting on events or sponsoring awards or pledges without addressing inclusion in the heart of the business, it is not benefiting from Diversity.

For those who are genuinely interested in embarking on a D&I journey, what are your 5 top tips for taking first steps?

  1. Raising Awareness – now that you’ve decided, it’s important to start building momentum. This can be at the senior level or studio-wide. Talking about the business case for Diversity and Inclusion specific to your business, explaining how it will benefit the business, each team and each individual, and creating a campaign around it are some of the ways one can do this.
  2. Identify what you want to achieve with your D&I journey – what is the biggest benefit you want to gain from it? Is it diverse talent? Greater market share? It is important to ensure that this D&I ambition is aligned with your business mission and vision.
  3. Gap Analysis – Once you know where you want to get to, find out where you are. If you want greater market share, find out whether you have enough people who understand the market you want to reach. If you want to design for a specific group, find out if you have enough people who understand that group. 
  4. Strategy Planning – Now that you know where you want to go and where you are now, you can start the planning process. What do you need to do to get to where you want to get? 
  5. Strategy Implementation – This is where the fun begins. Strategy implementation takes years, is tweaked and adjusted based on how it is being received, updated for new information and research, and extended as needed.

How is the games industry doing with D&I compared to other sectors?

It has a long way to go. That said, it has made great strides towards becoming more inclusive. There are shining stars out there who do incredibly well. I focus on progress rather than where people are on the journey. Stagnation is the enemy of D&I; as long as we’re moving towards greater inclusion and diversity, we’re doing well. But, as I say, there is much work to be done.

Rina Goldenberg Lynch is the Founder and CEO of Voice At The Table, a leading D&I consultancy company which has worked with SEGA, Creative Assembly, Jagex, Double Eleven and Sports Interactive, as well as many other businesses outside of games.

About Chris Wallace

Chris is a freelancer writer and was MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer from November 2019 until May 2022. He joined the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can 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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