Just about everybody knows a Candy Crush-playing human. That’s because Candy Crush Saga and its variants are some of the most popular mobile games in the world. The sweet sounds and visuals conjure nostalgia and are loved by millions across the globe, spanning all ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders and abilities. It must be so fun to create such joy, and if you ever wondered what’s it like behind the screens— you may not be surprised to find the gaming industry is overall male-dominated. King, the creators of Candy Crush, have recognized this and are determined to bring about balance through its Kicking Glass Program.
We spoke to Frances Light, Global Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, on what their new Kicking Glass Program is all about and how it’s helping to close the gender gap at King.
It starts with active listening
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King conducted deep gender research. In their research, one sentiment from women was they didn’t feel they had equal ability to express opinions, didn’t have access to an equal share of career opportunities, and felt they lacked confidence.
“Our women wanted to feel more included, valued, confident and heard. That is why we created Kicking Glass. The program was created after listening to what women and non-binary Kingsters have told us they needed through various surveys and workshops held by our Women@King employee network.”
King recognises that embracing gender diversity is not only the right thing to do — but it makes perfect sense for the organisation.
“Building a team of people from different backgrounds and with different experience allows for a more diverse approach and, ultimately, games that reflect the diverse audiences who play them, which is vital to a creative industry such as ours.”
What does Kicking Glass offer to women?
Traditional programs have been geared towards senior levels and high performers. King has opened Kicking Glass to all women and non-binary employees.
“It provides the opportunity for all our women and non-binary Kingsters, not just managers and leaders, to develop new skills, build their network and access exposure opportunities.”
Kicking Glass was launched earlier in the year on International Women’s Day. Previously intended to be in-person, the course has quickly pivoted to online delivery. One of the benefits of flexing to virtual meant Kingsters were able to complete the training with their colleagues across all locations.
“Going virtual meant that people from Stockholm as an example, could work and connect with someone from London. We buddied participants from overseas in break-out sessions. It was a powerful and truly global experience. The learning and support they get from each other is invaluable.”
You’re in for a treat
When we looked at Kicking Glass, we thought it was pretty sweet. There are three stages to the program.
The first pillar — Womxn in Leadership Development
This has been developed to support womxn no matter where they are in their career journey. Modules provide tools and techniques, broken down into three levels for their current career stage. At King, that translates to junior, middle and senior levels.
They work with ‘buddies’ throughout the program and have the opportunity to have a mentor.
Here are some of the modules:
- Cultivating a Growth Mindset
- Stepping up with Confidence
- Creating and Living My Personal Brand
- Being Resilient Leaders
- Strategic Thinking
- Unlocking Your Personal Influencing Power
The program is self-nominated.
The second pillar — Womxn Who Mean Business
This pillar was created to help build exposure and experience opportunities around King.
“The goal is to have our highly visible projects with gender-balanced working. This pillar helps provide space for our women and non-binary Kingsters to be able to participate more, feel listened to and innovate.”
The third pillar — Womxn in Networks
This pillar supports King’s Diversity and Inclusion campaign and ambition for women to be able to share knowledge, expertise and experiences both internally and externally.
“Internally we have created Power Circles which are Ted Talk style events hosted by our senior womxn and provide sharing, learning and networking. There is also an opportunity for our womxn to present externally at events and on panels.”
Continued commitment to diversity
Frances believes that setting manageable targets each year is a great way to stay on track.
“Back in 2018, we took a look at our intake for the year. We found that only 34% of our new hires that year were women. We realised that we needed to close this gap, so we planned and set a target to reach 40% in 2019. We were delighted when we met this! Following this achievement, we’re working toward achieving hiring parity as soon as possible, a goal we believe is a first for a games company of our size.”
While Kicking Glass provides opportunities for all womxn to take part, King also believes that it’s important to nurture the talent and take your current employees on the journey with you. It’s important to have schemes in place to retain diverse employees already in the business.
“Encouraging women into games is important, but keeping top talent is key. Set up a scheme to drive forward the progression of high performers. Retaining top talent right up to senior levels provides aspirational figures in the business for new talent and shows you’re serious about diversity across the board.”
You can find out more about King on their Endorsed Employer page.