THIS IS WHAT I #CHOOSETOCHALLENGE

Liz Prince our consultant managing the role
Author: Liz Prince
Posting date: 07/03/2021

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. In the words of the organisation behind this brilliant initiative, a challenged world is an alert world.

In the context of gender bias and inequality, it’s important for us all to continually challenge behaviour and attitudes that are unhelpful and potentially damaging to our collective effort in creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for women.

To anyone who is experiencing any kind of harassment, the #ChooseToChallenge message couldn’t be more appropriate. But for anyone – male or female - witnessing it in their workplace, the message is just as important, if not more so. If we are to create safe, welcoming environments for female talent within the games industry, it is the responsibility of every single person working in the business to step up, support co-workers – and continue to challenge.

For my part, I want to call out and highlight some behaviours that perhaps people don’t always think are a problem, things that can make women feel uncomfortable and we don’t always know what to do. How should we react? I’m talking about things like the tone of emails to women, how they’re addressed – things that may be considered ‘small’ or insignificant, but that actually have a cumulative impact on overall attitudes to women in the workplace (and elsewhere).

If you’re aware of the Everyday Sexism Project that was launched by writer Laura Bates a few years back, you’ll understand what I mean. The initiative aimed to raise awareness of the things that happen to women every day including those things that have become normalised, small things – micro-behaviours, if you like – that serve to undermine women and young girls. From supermarkets having separate sections for boys’ and girls’ toys and pink razors being sold for ‘ladies’; to professional women being on the receiving end of ‘mansplaining’ in the workplace – the campaign has made huge strides in highlighting what is unacceptable in today’s modern society.

But, while the supermarkets and fashion stores have mostly reconsidered their strategies, there are still many examples of ‘everyday sexism’ we see in the workplace, all the time. And I can give you recent real-life examples experienced by two women in our team.

Our work as recruiters means that we spend a lot of time connecting and communicating with people via LinkedIn. A recent exchange between one of our team and a potential candidate saw him telling her she “has a beautiful name”, with the message becoming increasingly flirtatious (from his side) thereafter - and resulting in him trying to follow her on Instagram (her personal account).

Another member of our team was told by a potential candidate that he’d taken all morning to draw a picture of her from her LinkedIn profile – and had loved spending the few hours looking at her..

We are supposed to find it funny and flattering – if we don’t we are uptight and rude...

Neither of these incidents caused direct harm but are they appropriate ways to talk to a recruitment professional? Absolutely not. Would they have happened to a male colleague, I suspect not. It shouldn’t be up to a woman in the Games industry to highlight this sort of behaviour as unacceptable, it should be understood by everyone.

Within the games industry – as in the rest of the workplace, and society in general – we must #ChooseToChallenge all attitudes and behaviours that undermine women and young girls. Of course, we continue to stand firm and united in condemning and fighting injustices and wrong doings when it comes to serious incidents of bullying, sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace. But I also #ChooseToChallenge the ‘everyday sexism’ that continues to blight our industry and beyond. I urge everyone to do the same – and make it an ongoing consideration of the way that we communicate and act towards women. Because eliminating these ‘small’ things really will make a BIG difference…

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