The government has launched a Gender Pay Gap database and has made it a legal requirement for all companies with over 250 employees to declare the difference between men and women's aggregate salaries.
Many of the biggest games and media companies in the UK have complied, while some big names are notably absent. Failure to disclose by the deadline can result in big fines.
The information, which we'll go through below, shows the difference in salary between what men and women are paid by the company's mean and median averages, in addition to showing how many each of the company's four quartiles - divided by salary - are female. The top quartile is the top quarter of earners at the company with the percentage listed the number of women in that quartile, while bottom quarter makes up the lowest earners.
It's worth considering that this data doesn't paint a complete picture. A company with a high gap may not be paying women less for the same job, indeed that has been illegal since the Equal Pay Act of 1970, and it may not be actively seeking to discriminate, but it does show that there are endemic problems that need to be resolved. Some variance is to be expected for societal and historic reasons, but this doesn't mean it should be accepted.
Rockstar North and Sumo Digital's reports are notable for their huge variances. Rockstar has the biggest disparity between mean salaries with 64 per cent of men at the company earning more than women. This means that, judging by mean salaries, a woman earns just 36 pence for every £1 earnt by a man at the company.
Rockstar's median difference is just 31.8 per cent, but this is, so far, second only to Sumo Digital's figures. Sumo, while having only a disappointing 33.7 per cent difference in mean salaries compared to Rockstar, is the worst in several other aspects: its median is 34.5 percent, while the company’s, with only 5% of the two highest earning quartiles including women (2.5 per cent in each).
Several companies perform slightly better, comparatively, than the figures above, but still point to problems. GAME, perhaps by strength of the number of employees they have in fixed pay bands at retail locations around the country, has just a 1.9 per cent difference in mean salary per hour, but only 20 per cent of those at the top are women.
All of the data we've gathered is here in a spreadsheet, and we've included a few companies in tech and media too, for comparison. The issue is widespread across games and tech. Our new bosses, Future, have declared too, so we put them in for transparency – even though those figures don't include the team at MCV.
It's again, important to stress that these figures don't say enough to attribute blame to a company by looking at them out of context. However the fact that these figures, and the several more we've gathered from across games, near uniformly point to women getting a worse deal and are hired less for senior roles and often given less power throughout the industry, than men by quite a margin. These figures should be a starting point to talk about how we can change the culture in games to make these numbers go downwards.
So, it's time for us, as the games industry, to have an awkward conversation. Why are women in the minority in our leadership roles, and why are they earning less nearly uniformly? It's been a problem for a long time, but we have a big pool of data now to add to the years of anecdotal and scientific research, and it's time not to point the finger at companies that have done worse or celebrate those who have done 'better'. Every company below the national average: 18.4%, is failing in a big way and we need to be thinking about how to bring that average down as an industry.
This might require drastic change, or 100 minor alterations, but it will also need companies coming forward to make a commitment to improving these figures. Diverse perspectives are, for this writer, absolutely the future of this industry and we need to be doing all we can to embrace this.
Additional research by Seth Barton and Jem Alexander