Five Questions With: Kim Barker Lee

Kim Barker Lee is new to Providence, in a newly created position, for a new corporate global diversity program. Lee is International Game Technology PLC’s new vice president of diversity and inclusion, tasked with developing the gaming-machine and lottery company’s global strategy when it comes to shoring up a culture where differences are valued. 

PBN: In announcing the All-in Diversity Project, you said that gaming is unique, requiring its own benchmarking. Can you elaborate?

LEE: Gaming … comprises many market segments, such as lottery, commercial and tribal gaming, and interactive play. Each market segment is unique, with different players, customers, products and services, and rules and regulations. Comparing ourselves to technology companies, social media, hospitality venues, entertainment companies or the video game industry doesn’t quite fit.

In addition, gaming is in and of itself diverse – our industry includes state-run lotteries, land-based commercial casinos, tribal casinos and the ever-evolving interactive gaming available around the world. We need to benchmark the global gaming industry to gather data about the current state of inclusion, so we can understand the challenges that are unique to our business sector.

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PBN: Are there any inclusion and diversity challenges the industry is facing now?

LEE: The gaming industry, like many other industries, needs to address head-on the gap in leadership for women and people of color. However, because we are a global industry with a diverse customer and player base, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to bridging those gaps. It will take dedicated resources, time, persistence and – most importantly – leadership to move the bar on diversifying the industry and in particular, the top-ranking leadership.

PBN: How did the partnership with the All-in Diversity Project come about?

LEE: The All-in Diversity Project is based in the U.K., and our team in London recognized its innovative work. … The timing was perfect, as All-in Diversity and IGT are each laying the foundation for our global gaming industry to understand the current state and goals for diversity and inclusion.

Our partnership provides a unique opportunity to be part of a groundbreaking initiative that will help open our industry to greater diversity, more diverse viewpoints and perspectives that deliver the innovation and creativity that customers and players demand.

PBN: The equal-pay issue is widespread. Is gaming doing worse or better than other industries in this realm?

LEE: It is difficult to answer this question yet. We simply need more data.

PBN: Do you think there are misconceptions about what diversity and inclusion mean? 

LEE: Yes – IGT defines diversity broadly. It is beyond race, gender, sexual orientation or disability. Diversity is also about different perspectives, points of view, backgrounds, professional experiences, work styles and more. Inclusion is leveraging diversity to create an environment where visible and invisible differences are valued, have a seat at the table and are able to contribute their best.

Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributor.