Five questions with Stephanie Huckel

Stephanie Huckel | Senior global manager, diversity and inclusion, International Game Technology PLC


1. For six months, you’ve served as IGT’s senior global program manager, diversity and inclusion. What’s been your focus? We have created a multiyear diversity and inclusion strategy. As part of [its] development, we’ve worked with colleagues across the globe to help them understand its value and ensure it’s in line with the local environment.

We’re also … developing employee business resource groups, preparing an educational rollout and beginning an [equity-focused] policy and procedure review.

2. You served in a similar position at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island. What has the transition from health care to gaming been like? I [served in] the New England health care industry for 10 years. In that time, I learned a great deal about diversity, inclusion, cultural competence, health care disparities and efforts to close those gaps.

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[While] the shift to gaming … is certainly different, my mission … has stayed the same. I help create workplaces where employees feel valued, included and can contribute their best work.

3. What are the major obstacles to diversity and inclusion in gaming and how do you hope to address them? We have an issue with the future workforce pipeline. … It’s too narrow and doesn’t reflect the brilliance our community has to offer. We’ll support programs [to] broaden that pipeline, but also look internally to see how [IGT] policies and practices contribute to this dynamic.

This is not unrelated to the popular presentation of women in this industry. We’re examining our contributions … and shifting to ensure we’re not leading with stereotypical images.

4. Last year, you spoke at PBN’s inaugural Workforce Excellence, Diversity and Inclusion summit. Do you feel Rhode Island companies employ a true reflection of local individuals or is there still ground to be made up? The data tells us we have room for progress. A recent Economic Progress Institute report says for every dollar of income in the median white household, the median black household realizes 55 cents.

This report, in addition to Latino Policy Institute work, tells us black and Latino unemployment consistently exceeds white unemployment. On top of that, nearly two-thirds of Rhode Island mothers were breadwinners in 2010, but the median wages for women are far below that of men in this state.

5. What’s one piece of advice you wish more executives knew about the type of work you do and the changing face of today’s workforce? Diversity and inclusion programs are imperative for a successful business, but it’s not easy. For [this work] to have a real and lasting impact, an organization must have unwavering executive-level support and it must be woven throughout all the company does.