Where you grew up, what your parents did and where you went to school are huge predictors of career outcomes in the UK. The games industry is no exception. We know from the UK Games Industry Census that 12% of employees attended an independent or fee-paying school, compared with a national average of 7%, and that figure jumps to 20% of the workforce amongst directors and CEOs.
Yet, the benefit of diversity to the industry is undeniable. Untold innovation and creativity will be lost if talented individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds continue to be excluded and overlooked. A studio without a rich variety of background, experience and worldviews in its workforce risks missing out on ground-breaking ideas, while also shutting out large portions of its target audiences.
It is particularly crucial to address the issue of workplace socioeconomic diversity this year. We have all been affected by the pandemic, but young people have been hit particularly hard. The younger generations are at risk of becoming the pandemic’s economic victims as unemployment continues to rise and opportunity dwindles. It is time for the games industry (A dream destination for many young people) to take action.
That’s why the Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) is urging industry employers to get involved and enter the 2021 Employer Index as an important step to approach and take action around social mobility within the workplace.
The Index ranks the UK’s employers on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and progressing talent from all backgrounds. Employers each receive a comprehensive feedback report to inform their social mobility strategy and a Top 75 ranking is published to celebrate the organisations taking the most action to accelerate social mobility; providing guidance, a benchmark to compare and knowledge share with peers.
For the past four years the Index has been running, there has been a lack of representation from the gaming industry. We know that significant strides are being taken to address socioeconomic diversity and that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Upon entering the Index, the SMF team is with you every step of the way to offer support throughout the process. It is free of charge, employers can enter anonymously and you’ll likely find that the feedback uncovers a range of avenues for you to gather valuable data and improve your diversity practices.
Insights from previous years have shown that data collection is crucial, but it is also important that employers are evaluating the impact of their work with young people, asking employees about the culture of the workplace and monitoring the impact of any partnerships with charities, schools or third-party suppliers. Last year’s Index revealed that 85% of employers feel that clients care about the social class mix of their workforce. It is in the interests of employers to prioritise social mobility initiatives and publish their background data because this is an issue that clients, colleagues and applicants are taking increasingly seriously.
If we are to have any hope of slowing a decline in social mobility caused by the pandemic, we must all work together to enact change!
The 2021 Social Mobility Index is open for submissions until Friday 28th May - FAQs and the submission form can be found here.
The SMF is a charity which makes a practical improvement in social mobility for young people from low-income backgrounds – both through programme work and its advocacy and campaigning arm the Department for Opportunities (DO). You can find out more about their work here, and hear about their latest activities by following them on Twitter.