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The European Casino Association has continued to make elevating diversity one its foremost priorities, something that was emphasised at the organisation’s recent summer meeting, with the topic of diversity a vocal point at the event. We spoke to SlotGuru partner and member of the ECA gender diversity initiative, Cecilia Paolino-Uboldi about the steps she feels are crucial when it comes to diversifying the industry

Hi Cecilia, thanks for talking to us. Are you able to further explain the importance of mentorship, scholarship and educational programmes for females looking to break into the casino industry? 

Cecilia Paolino-Uboldi

“In some parts of the world where women are not given the same freedoms and rights as men, the need for women-only scholarships, educational programmes and all possible help is essential as, society and culture prevent them for getting anywhere close to achieving their potential.

“Another barrier that comes to mind is economical as, in some western societies, education can be extremely expensive. However, in order to break through in any industry, not only the casino industry, you first need to have the willingness to thrive and achieve greater things. You need to think big.

“Scholarships and educational plans are not available everywhere and it can take a long time to get the necessary approvals. Therefore, women should not put all their focus on the opportunities that these resources offer. By actively working towards self-improvement, this is the right attitude that shows drive and hunger to succeed and reach goals. It shows independence and aptitude to figure out a vision, make a plan, to achieve it and go beyond. 

“The challenge that remains is how we can access the resources available to us to help us see things from a different angle, or simply stimulate our thinking to progress as individuals and as a consequence in our careers.

“Mentorship does not only come in the form of a senior person in the organisation. You have to consider wider circles, that could come from friends and family, attend networking events, conferences, publications, podcasts, getting involved in online groups that discuss topics relevant to your career and the sort of positions you are aspiring to achieve.

“Female mentors would be a better option, as they will have been through the same challenges that the person they are mentoring is trying to address. They will know and understand things like the glass ceiling, inadvertent gender bias, and the ‘boys club mentality’.

“My personal advice would be: Show initiative and differentiate yourself by getting the job you want in an unexpected and creative way to demonstrate your character and capabilities. If you do not believe with all your heart that you are worth and capable of having much more responsibility at work, nobody will believe it either.”

“It’s good talking about diversity, but only by being transparent CAN one offer proof those standards are being ‘lived’

How important is transparency when it comes to making progress in the diversity in the industry?

“Transparency is vital across all elements of business as it builds and maintains trust throughout the business process, from staff, to investors and through to customers. The essence of transparency is not about divulging business secrets or giving away strategic information, but more about showcasing the essence of how a company does business – how a company treats its staff and its supply chain, how it approaches gender, sexual orientation, disability, race and religion, all have a factor on how the wider ecosystem will perceive your business.

“To be effective, transparency has to be analysed in a much more holistic way. It is important to first define what one is trying to achieve, have clear measurable goals and defined timetables. The key is to understand insights, set up a series of actions and programmes planned throughout the organisation that everybody understands and finally define how are those insights going to be used to improve the business.

“It is all good and well talking about diversity, but only by being ‘transparent’ can one offer proof those standards are being ‘lived’.”

What can be done to support females in higher management roles within the casino sector?

“To be honest, this is such a wide-ranging question, that it is almost an injustice to answer it within the confines of this article. But to get the discussion rolling, you should start by looking at the management structure, function and process.

“For example, psychometric testing has shown that women bring a very different dynamic to meetings; so by understanding their unique talents, speak up, speak out and contribute leveraging their potential, you will see women bringing significant value from the outset.

“Businesses should not expect women to conform the current, male-driven approach to meetings. They bring a different perspective from a different set of life experiences. This perspective can broaden and deepen the executive board’s insight by making it more effective and agile hence, more successful rising to the unique challenges their business faces in their respective market, which is good for the bottom line.

“Ensure that there is more than one woman in a management role – it can be hugely isolating being the only woman in a group and that can potentially lead a very capable woman to under-perform, purely based on perceived peer pressure.

“Despite all the talk of equality, even among senior women, the female of a household is still the primary home keeper and child guardian. To this end, there are a lot of benefits that an organisation can offer to address the gender imbalance nurture the female working force like on-site childcare, maternity benefits, encouraging women’s networking groups, being mindful not to start meetings early in the morning and do ensure the meetings finish at a reasonable time in the afternoon.

“Organisations that put an emphasis in creating a gender-neutral environment make a point to truly understand what women in the organisation want and need from their employers. They actively ask them and do surveys about what is it that they value. For some may be work/job sharing while for others could be mentoring groups or scholarships.

“As I said, this topic could go on and on, but to be honest, the key thing here is respect and understanding. By being mindful of your staff (all of them), you can build a working environment that not only supports every one of them but, in doing so, builds an environment for them to operate at their peak.”

CasinoBeats also spoke to the ECA’s vice-president for diversity and education, Janny Wierda about elevating diversity in the casino sector, to read her insights click here.