Global Gaming Women: Your ‘Personal Board of Directors’

During the pandemic, Global Gaming Women grew its virtual presence to ensure its educational content and networking opportunities were still available to members. The organization is designed to give women in gaming a “personal board of directors,” said Lauren Bates, mentorship committee co-chair.

Global Gaming Women: Your ‘Personal Board of Directors’

Every public company has a board, people of different skills and backgrounds who guard its interests and support its growth.

Lauren Bates, sales vice president for Konami Gaming, said Global Gaming Women (GGW) offers every woman a “personal board of directors”—a team of gaming professionals who serve as mentors, guides, supporters and sounding boards.

GGW gives members at every level a place to connect with peers and share their goals, aspirations and frustrations. It offers a free, four-tier educational program that sharpens their business skills, and global and local networks to further their career advancement.

And through its signature Lean-In Circles—small groups of members who meet regularly in communities of support—GGW also addresses the inner transformation sometimes necessary for women to succeed. The name was borrowed from Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 bestseller, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.”

At the time, the Facebook COO wrote: “In addition to external barriers erected by society, women are hindered by barriers that exist within themselves. We hold ourselves back in big ways and small, by lacking self-confidence, not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.”

Lauren Bates, Vice President of West Game Sales, Konami Gaming

GGW acknowledges and addresses this issue with programs on personal development, confidence-building, effective communication and “the economics of well-being”—the elusive work-life balance sought by so many women in the workplace.

By design, Lean-In Circles are small—usually eight to 12 women, all in the same general vicinity. “Typically, we stay closer to eight, because we’re all very busy,” said Bates. “A monthly meeting with eight people is hard enough to put together without trying to sort out geographic locations and time-zone differences.”

Perhaps most importantly, she said, “Small peer groups allow you to share and learn from each other in the utmost confidentiality and trust. Lean-In Circles help women achieve their ambitions at work and create a more equal playing field” in a male-dominated arena.

Teams Work

It’s no secret that in business, who you know can determine how far you’ll go. GGW offers networking events around the world in conjunction with various gaming conferences and in specific gaming markets so women can meet face to face and forge professional social and personal bonds.

Through such relationship-building, women can find potential associates and clients, and also make valuable connections—including mentors who make it their business to recognize and encourage talent.

Prior to Covid-19, most GGW events were in person. Due to the pandemic, which caused seismic upheaval throughout the industry, GGW shifted previously live events online. As a result, these programs reached an even wider audience, ensuring consistent communication and support during a turbulent time.

For example, in the organization’s Trailblazer webinars, industry leaders answer 10 questions that illuminate their paths to success. Members learn from the best: people like Mary Beth Higgins, CEO of Affinity Gaming; Anna Sainsbury, founder and chairwoman of GeoComply; Erika Nardini, CEO of Barstool Sports; Elaine Hodgson, president and CEO of Incredible Technologies; and Sara Slane, founder of Slane Advisory, among many others.

“We’ve had an HR executive to talk about personal branding and revamping your resume to stand out more,” said Bates. “We’ve had a social media expert explain how can you revamp your Linkedin profile for better exposure (on that platform). On the website, you’ll see all the virtual monthly master classes we started during Covid-19, which have been so successful.” All past webinars are available online.

Bates, who joined the GGW board in July 2018, is currently the board’s second vice president and co-chair of the Mentorship Committee. In 2020, she, co-chair and gaming industry veteran Holly Gagnon and the international group All In Diversity hosted 400 attendees for a two-day Zoom event. That event led to the formation of additional Lean-In Circles this year, including the first-ever international Circle.

“It goes back to the power of connection, and knowing you’re not alone,” Bates observed. “When you look around, there may be 100 years of gaming experience ready to help and assist you. If you’re stalled in your career, someone may have an idea—‘Let us get your resume to the right person.’ And even if I can’t personally help, maybe someone in my network can.”

This isn’t just feel-good stuff, either, said Bates. She has witnessed a “very tangible success rate” of women ascending to higher level roles, including at the vice presidential level.

Strength in Numbers

GGW membership is open year-round, to all women in gaming, and is free of charge (men can join, too!). Registration opens up a wealth of virtual content, with regular additions. A Lean-In networking event is coming in January 2022.

With 6,000 members in 42 states and 12 countries, GGW works to support, inspire and influence the development of women in the gaming industry, and enrich both their professional and personal lives.

“We have support and networks for people just starting out to those at the most senior level,” Bates said. “It’s been my privilege to work with and network with women outside my immediate circle: game designers and competitors, compliance officers and attorneys who wouldn’t be in my standard purview. These are the ladies who helped me as a new mom during Covid. They have become my family and my support. They’re my personal board of directors.”

For more information and to join, visit globalgamingwomen.org.

Articles by Author: Marjorie Preston

Marjorie Preston is managing editor of Global Gaming Business. She is a writer, editor, author and expat Pennsylvanian who now considers herself a New Jerseyan. Based on Brigantine Island north of Atlantic City, Preston has been writing about the gaming industry since 2007, when she joined the staff of Global Gaming Business as managing editor of Casino Connection.