Diversity, inclusion and equal treatment in the Finnish game industry

We in Games Finland, together with IGDA Finland, carried out a questionnaire in 2021 about the experiences in the game industry in Finland. The results give an overview of a mostly diverse and supporting atmosphere, but also bring to light problems when looking at the answers from marginalized groups and non-males. 

This data was collected through the We In Games internal newsletter, IGDA Finland’s newsletter, and several posts on closed social media groups for game industry professionals in Finland, including the We In Games Finland Facebook group. The survey was a Google Form that was open from January 21st to February 7th 2021.  There was no way to verify whether or not the respondents of the survey were actually working/studying in Finland, but we reminded them several times during the survey itself that this was meant for people working in the Finnish game industry. We received a total of 178 answers.

Marginalised groups here mean all the respondents who responded that they belong to a marginalised group based on their sexual or gender identity, religion, being a person of colour, disability, chronic illness, immigration status or by some other factor (84 respondents). Non-males are all the respondents who did not select “male” as their gender (104 respondents). 74 of the respondents identified as male.

Diversity, inclusion and equal treatment

On a scale of 1–7, 89% felt that their game studio or school is accepting of people from diverse and marginalised backgrounds (scores 5, 6 and 7). For male-identifying respondents, 95% felt this way, and 4% gave a score 4. Only one response was below the score of 4. When looking at non-male respondents, 86% gave a score above 4. However, scores 1–3 represent 10% of the respondents. Within respondents who represent marginalized groups, the figures were similar with 85% giving a score above 4 and 11% giving a score below 4. From those who gave further details about a score of 6 or 7, schools were mentioned as well as the bigger gaming studios, and Rovio got the most mentions.

Graphs on the percentages presented above.

Within the data, two different but simultaneous discourses or discussions about diversity are present. The practical discourse is linked to everyday work and presents as very positive towards diversity, since within this discourse the industry actually is diverse and all kinds of people are “already working here”. The political discourse instead may be linked to the larger political discussion about who “is allowed to be here”. Here diversity is seen more as polarizing and setting people in one (political) identity category at a time. This finding of two discourses, which are sometimes in conflict, could appear interesting for example in following DEI projects.

82% of the respondents said that if someone at their workplace or school came out as transgender, non-binary or similar, they would be supported and welcomed, and people would use their new name and pronouns (scores 5, 6 and 7). For male-identifying respondents, 81% felt this way, and 17% gave a score 4. Only two responses didn’t believe this would happen (scores below 4). From non-males 83% believed that their school or workplace would be welcoming, but 8% didn’t agree. In respondents who belong to a marginalized group, 80% agreed, 14% were indecisive and 6% didn’t agree. Some comments were left about not having been in such a situation yet and that some people might be unsure on how to react, so more information and educational materials would be helpful. Positive experiences described by multiple respondents were recorded and some people expressed their support in the open answers. However there was some uncertainty present, and especially non-binary gender identities were viewed as something new and as a topic people still need to learn more about.

Graphs on the percentages presented above.

76% of the respondents agreed with the statement “At my studio, workplace, or school, men and non-men are treated equally”. 11% were undecided and 13% didn’t agree. 87% of male respondents believed that everyone was treated equally and only 4% didn’t agree. Within non-male respondents, 68% said that men and non-men were treated equally, and 19% didn’t agree with the statement. Respondents from marginalized groups answered similarly, with 64% agreeing and 19% disagreeing. The difference in compensation was mentioned in the comments as one of the reasons why the respondents didn’t believe that men and non-men were treated equally.

Graphs on the percentages presented above.

When asked about how much racism and xenophobia did the respondent think exists in the Finnish game industry, 3% of the more senior respondents thought that there is none (score 1), 47% that there is very little or little (scores 2–3), 33% that there’s some (scores 4–5) and 17% that there’s a lot (scores 6–7). Of the more junior respondents, 10% thought that there is none, 32% that there’s very little or little, 48% that there’s some and 10% that there’s a lot. The comments note that there are more workers from abroad in the game industry than in other industries and that the companies are more welcoming, but that getting the first job is hard as a foreigner and people who don’t speak Finnish are sometimes discriminated against in the society as well as the game industry.

Further research on diversity and inclusion in the Finnish game industry based on the questionnaire

This article is the first one on the series that is based on the questionnaire We in Games Finland accomplished in 2021 together with IGDA Finland. In following articles, we will analyse sexual harrasment in our industry, the issue of unpaid internship, and list highlights and issues we could do better in this industry. 

Our aim is to conclude this survey biannually, and compare the result to get the clear image where our industry is going with diversity. The next survey is planned for 2023. 

Written by: Essi Jukkala, Susi Nousiainen, Taina Myöhänen and Licia Prehn

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