Perspectives

Promoting Female Leadership in Esports

The esports industry is quickly becoming a bastion for successful female leaders. Having a diverse leadership team — and supporting female professionals — allows for esports organizations to draw from a wide set of skills and life experiences.

Notable Women in Esports

The esports industry is home to more female leaders than you might think. These professionals come from diverse backgrounds, as well, and not everyone played video games prior to accepting their respective positions. This allows leaders to draw on unique experiences that help revolutionize or move the esports industry forward.

Johanna Faries, Commissioner of the Call of Duty League, spent nearly 12 years in traditional sports — namely, the National Football League (NFL) — before heading up the formation of Activision-Blizzard’s latest esports venture. Faries’ experience with a traditional sporting league gives her unique insight into how esports can mirror its success.

Esports Trade Association Founder Megan Van Petten is another example of traditional sports leaders bringing their expertise to competitive gaming. Van Petten spent over a decade leading the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) before creating an organization to serve the industry at large.

Tricia Sugita, CEO of Flyquest, brings over a decade of esports experience to her role and a drive to make the world a better place. Under her leadership, Flyquest has created initiatives to fight climate change, moved the team to a new facility, and brought home the best finish for the League of Legends team in the organization’s history — all during a global pandemic.

The Value of Having a Diverse Leadership Team

The esports industry benefits from a diverse leadership team for many reasons. Roughly 30% of esports enthusiasts are women, according to a 2019 study by Interpret, so having female leaders to help understand this audience is a must. In addition to promoting the diversity of gender and gender identity in leadership, esports organizations should also consider recruiting a diversity of thought and life experience. Oftentimes, someone from outside of the industry brings a fresh perspective when you can no longer “see the forest for the trees.”

Diverse leaders with equally diverse backgrounds can help esports organizations communicate more effectively. For example, a retail professional will have unique merchandising insights while someone from the music industry can advise on how to build an entertainment audience. If you are having difficulty reaching your desired audience, consider looking outside of esports for solutions.

This diversity of thought and life experience in an esports organizations’ leadership team can also result in attracting better talent. Depending on your organizations’ needs, goals, and mission statement, female leaders can recommend new initiatives, roles, and skill sets that will help your team stand apart from the competition.

How to Promote Female Leadership in Esports

So you’ve decided to hire more female leaders for your esports organization. That’s great! There are a few things you’ll need to consider to make your organization not only attractive to female applicants but a place where they can thrive.

Step One: Create an Open Environment

McKinley & Company’s 2019 report, “Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters,” found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.

Call of Duty is Activision-Blizzard’s top source of revenue. In a Q2 earnings call with investors, President Rob Kostich said, “this IP is getting the full treatment it deserves, and it’s getting it because of the talent across the company.” Call of Duty League launched in January of 2020, so it will be interesting to see how Faries’ leadership will impact the company’s revenue.

Make sure that your female employees know that they will be considered for leadership roles and that feedback on diversity is appreciated.

Step Two: Strengthen Leadership Accountability

McKinley found that 51 percent of employees were compelled to mention leadership during the study, and 56 percent felt negatively about leadership accountability.

It’s one thing to “virtue signal” diversity messaging to employees and the public, but quite another to make it happen. Ensure that leaders in your esports organization leaders are trained to battle unconscious biases in the workplace (such as girls aren’t gamers or a mom can’t handle more responsibilities) and are open to constant improvement.

Step Three: Paint Models of Success

Sometimes, equal opportunity between the sexes isn’t enough to promote equal outcomes when it comes to leadership positions. Business strategy consulting firm Bain & Company postulates that home and work dynamics contribute to a woman’s confidence and aspirations for promotion within the company.

Frontline managers in the esports industry can use models of success to inspire and motivate their up and coming female leaders. There are plenty of successful women in the esports industry to choose from!


Written by HB Duran

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