Lena Nordin, chief HR officer at Betsson Group, addresses the online gambling group’s approach to diversity, what more needs to be done, and September’s Malta Pride.
CasinoBeats: What challenges do you believe are still present within the industry when it comes to gender diversity and inclusion?
Lena Nordin: Without diversity, there is no innovation, and without inclusion, there is no diversity. So, for an industry that prides itself on pushing boundaries, it is essential that there are none when it comes to creating equal opportunities for all.
We can always do better, of course, but it’s also fair to say that this industry is more diverse and inclusive than many others, and certainly should be praised for its proactivity in establishing long-term change.
We have multiple awards and initiatives that champion women and diversity, including the influential All-In Diversity Project, of which Betsson is a founding member. These create excellent platforms to gather and showcase talent and to highlight the leading role that women and people from different backgrounds – individually and collectively – play.
A major advantage for the igaming industry is that it is newer, fresher and faster-paced than many others. It is at the forefront of digital, which demands innovation, diversity and a global approach. The workforce is typically young and vibrant and takes this for granted. It is not an option.
While board level is still male-dominated, we are seeing positive changes here, and as millennials become leaders – which they already are – the change accelerates, and it becomes natural. This is already happening at management and senior management levels, which are more balanced. At Betsson, approximately 40 per cent of employees are women and we are striving to push that proportion higher.
“Inclusion is about celebrating people’s differences and embracing them”
CB: Following on from the previous question, what initiatives does Betsson currently have or place, or plan to launch, to promote an inclusive culture both within the organisation and industry wide?
LN: Betsson is an amazing company to work for, with a spread of different people from different places. We’re super proud to be home to more than 60 nationalities, which gives us a special vibe in the office and a unique culture across the business. When you add to this that 75 per cent of our employees are millennials, giving us an average age of 33 we have an incredibly diverse and open environment.
This hasn’t happened by luck: as well as being one of the most active supporters and engaged sponsors of industry initiatives, we have implemented our own.
In 2019, we created a new model called DIB (Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging) and continuously assess our performance in these areas, using both qualitative and quantitative methods.
For diversity, we look at data and statistics. How many people do we have in different countries? How many from different backgrounds? How many women do we employ? What roles do they have? Diversity is a way to recognise that every individual is unique.
Inclusion is about celebrating people’s differences and embracing them to make sure everyone is involved, whether that’s developing leaders or onboarding new staff, offering team activities, sharing knowledge, or fostering a global mindset and culture. Everyone should feel included.
Belonging is about how people feel. We know we have a diverse workforce, with an inclusive culture, but do people believe in it? Do they feel that they belong to the Betsson family? There are different ways of measuring this, including an annual employee survey, which consistently shows high engagement.
“As an industry, we need to be doing more of what we are already doing”
For example, when asked in the most recent employee survey whether they agreed with the following statements, 84 per cent said Betsson provides equal opportunities to people regardless of their backgrounds, 92 per cent said Betsson makes sure I feel an equal part of the team, 88 per cent said they had the freedom to express new ideas, and 91 per cent felt able to speak out when they held a different opinion.
We also established WIBE – Women in Betsson – a platform to promote equality and the empowerment of women within the igaming industry, and where women at Betsson can network and inspire each other. This started out as face-to-face workshops and meetings and we adapted by taking it online during the pandemic, which had the benefit of bringing together all our locations and broadening participation.
Diversity gives us a competitive advantage. We know – based on research and experience – when people come from different areas, with different thoughts, then they will ask questions. If you have a group of the same types of personalities thinking alike then they won’t challenge the status quo, nor each other.
CB: What more would you say needs to be done throughout the industry?
LN: As an industry, we need to be doing more of what we are already doing, and, most importantly, we need to work together to achieve the maximum results.
The more that we can come together as an industry and take the front seat, it will be for all our betterment. Rather than competing about being the most diverse, the most inclusive, if we can find networks and join forces and influence more women and a wider talent pool to join the industry, or talk about the diversity of the industry, the greater and faster it will develop.
“Without diversity, there is no innovation, and without inclusion, there is no diversity”
This discussion will help people from the outside understand. Not everyone knows igaming is one of the most digital and technologically advanced industries in the world. Marketing together is of immense benefit to us all and, fortunately, we have seen that it is not only Betsson that has this way of thinking and is open to collaboration.
CB: Malta Pride took place in September, what did Betsson plan for the event?
LN: Due to some remaining pandemic restrictions, the annual Pride march in the streets of Valletta did not take place this year. As a company we participated in 2018 and 2019 and I, personally, really enjoyed marching together with several Betssonites to show our support towards the LGBTIQ+ community.
Last year we had a greatly appreciated online lecture with an internationally renowned transgender expert who spoke on gender and inclusion in the workplace. Following the fantastic feedback, this year we also opted for a transgender speaker and invited professional racing driver, Charlie Martin. She made history as the first transgender driver to enter the Nürburgring Endurance Series in 2020.
Alongside motorsport, Charlie is a motivational speaker and in her exclusive Betsson Group talk, she shared several stories of her life experiences and journey so far. Everyone who attended the live session or watched the recording was captivated by her story and we couldn’t have picked a better speaker for this initiative during Pride Month 2021.
Lena Nordin was recently awarded as Leader of the Year at the Women in Gaming, Diversity Awards 2021, in which Betsson Group also won the ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ Award. Betsson Group is shortlisted for six awards at the upcoming SBC Awards Latinoamérica 2021, including ‘Employer of the Year/Empleador del Año’