Compliance Corner with Alex Henderson: Issue 4 – True Diversity or Make Believe?

For some, today’s column on compliance and diversity may make for controversial, even uncomfortable reading.

It addresses a sensitive topic that warrants honest reflection — and dialogue.

The questions I pose are intended to spark thoughtful discussions and, hopefully, lead to positive change. And I invite readers to join me in this open and candid exploration of diversity and inclusivity in our industry.

The big question I ask myself, and what I want to ask you, is: Are we really as diverse and inclusive as we believe ourselves to be?

First, it’s important to ask ourselves some fundamental questions.

Who are the decision-makers, leading meetings with partners?

What do we observe in the demographics of industry events, among attendees and people providing support services?

Is our workplace culture inclusive?

And, perhaps most important of all, what more can we do to create a more diverse and inclusive gaming industry?

I hope the answers to these questions are positive, and self-critical. For, I believe, it’s crucial to acknowledge and address the lack of diversity within many sectors of our industry, particularly in Compliance, especially at a senior level.

The aim of this article is to inspire and power necessary change.

While many industry insiders may feel satisfied with their ongoing efforts to improve inclusivity, it must also be recognised that there is considerable room for improvement. It’s a sensitive topic, one that can be misconstrued as an accusation of gender, or racial, discrimination.

But if this means challenging the status quo and causing discomfort, then it’s a risk worth taking if it promotes greater inclusivity.

A former colleague warned me against addressing the issue of diversity, cautioning that myopic self-satisfaction could lead to resistance rather than progress.

But I take pride in promoting inclusivity and advocating for diversity in all forms. My aim is to promote a platform for positive ‘inclusion’, not positive ‘discrimination’.

A diverse workforce, with a broad range of perspectives and opinions enriches debate and throws up innovative solutions to problems. This is particularly relevant in Compliance, where it is crucial to be proactive in interpreting laws and regulations.

Nevertheless, I have noticed a worrying trend: Why are fewer people from ethnic minorities applying for Compliance roles? And why are there fewer women in senior positions across the gambling industry?

With this said, it’s important to note that some organizations have made great strides towards inclusivity. But they lie largely outside the main.

True diversity is achieved when a culture of inclusivity is created, welcoming people of all backgrounds, ages, genders, mental and physical abilities, and experiences. In Compliance, a diversity-of-mindsets is key to promoting innovation and creativity. It is only through fostering an inclusive culture that we can encourage prospective and current employees to contribute to the industry’s evolution. So it’s imperative that we continue to discuss how we can create such a culture, one where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute to the common success.

Here are seven key ideas that I have found useful in my own working life:

Implement a platform where everyone can be heard: A diverse Compliance Team creates diverse ideas. Encouraging everyone to bring forward suggestions and appreciate that they are being heard opens the doors to innovation and progress.

Adopt a safe and inclusive workplace culture: Having an effective and open Whistleblowing Policy goes a long way to achieving this. Embed a workplace culture that is free from harassment, discrimination, and bias. Encourage employees to report any incidents of harassment or discrimination and take steps to address them promptly.

Celebrate difference: Harness the unique cultural backgrounds, experiences and perspectives that employees bring to the workplace. This can be through having team members bringing in food of their choice, selecting a theme for the next team event or simply engaging in conversation and being genuinely interested in finding out more about your peers. Encourage employees to share their culture, traditions, and stories.

Provide flexible work arrangements: Offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, to accommodate the diverse needs of your employees.
Due to health, homelife, religion and age, people need flexibility. Working nine-to-five in the office is not ideal for everyone, so be prepared to adapt for the overall welfare of your team. If HR within your company does not have this in place or provide such support, then fight for it.

Partner with diverse organisations and communities: Being involved with, and supportive of, local community projects is ground-breaking. I have members of my team who spend each Christmas helping people in need. This has now become a tradition in my own household.

Provide accommodation for employees with disabilities: Make sure that employees with disabilities have reasonable accommodation, to ensure that they have equal opportunities and can fully participate in the workplace.

Promote diversity in leadership: Ensure that your leadership team represents the diversity of your workforce. This helps to send a strong message: Diversity and inclusion are valued and help create a more inclusive workplace.

In conclusion, By embracing diversity companies can tap into new markets, build stronger teams and better serve their customers.

Creating inclusivity and diversity within compliance is not just a moral obligation but also a good strategy which leads to greater success and growth.

To achieve true inclusivity and diversity it’s crucial to actively seek out and listen to diverse voices, provide opportunities for underrepresented groups and create a culture of respect and acceptance.

And by doing so, the gambling industry can set a leading and progressive example for others to follow.

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