iGB’s Most Influential Women looks to celebrate and uphold the females identified by the industry as having exerted the most influence beyond their everyday sphere to impact the company, sector and culture around them. In part one, we reveal the first two females who made the cut this year.
Welcome to our rundown of the Most Influential Women in igaming for 2022. Throughout the next three days, we will reveal who has made their way through a rigorous nomination, longlisting, shortlisting and judging process to secure a place on this year’s list.
The judges assessed industry influence, professional influence and how the nominee championed diversity over the previous 12 months when compiling our top 10 and five runners up as highly commended by our panel.
In selecting 2022’s Most Influential, it became apparent that diversity-specific roles continue to be on the rise. Companies are looking to increase their presence in diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) initiatives; a trend that has become increasingly popular in a time where less women than ever are entering the industry.
The quality of nominations this year has continued to be strong, building upon the legacy of nominees over the last five years
As part of 2022’s campaign, All-In Diversity Project co-founder Christina Thakor-Rankin, subsequently named among the sector’s Top 10 Most Influential Women for 2022, wrote a piece about how women’s professional and personal lives have been upended over the last year. She pointed out that according to the Index, the number of women entering the industry between 2021 and 2022 fell below 50% for the first time in the Index’s history.
Thakor-Rankin linked this to two reasons – the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent change in domestic circumstances, and the entrance of Generation Z in the workplace.
Generation Z view influence differently. Rather than it meaning a person who has achieved an extraordinary feat, to them, it relates to someone who uses their role to bolster important social causes.
These reasons are why the inclusion of women from all areas of the industry on the 2022 Most Influential Women list is so vital. Those within the industry and outside it need to recognise the achievements of a group that is diverse both geographically and professionally. It also speaks to the continued necessity of female-only initiatives as the industry continues to broaden its diversity focus beyond gender. With that being said, here are the first two profiles for the Most Influential Women 2022 list, in no particular order. The remainder will be published in part two and part three over next consecutive days.
Chair, l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux
For Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, being recognised as one of IGB’s Most Influential Women is inextricably tied into the work she has undertaken as chair of France’s gambling regulator, l’Autorité Nationale des Jeux (ANJ) over the last two years.
ANJ was first launched in 2020 and became the regulator for all gambling in France, replacing the Regulatory Authority for Online Games (ARJEL).
“I believe this award is a clear recognition for the collective work done by the ANJ for over two years,” she says. “When this new regulatory institution was launched in 2020, there were big challenges and sometimes, some reluctance.”
“We had to demonstrate that we could bring value added to the market and better protect the players. We are on track even if there is still progresses to make. For me, the award means line of evolution.”
Falque-Pierrotin partly attributes her success to her previous experience heading other regulatory institutions, stating that regulation is a similar game across the board.
“Even if the gambling sector is specific, the regulatory issues are quite classic- finding the good balance between the development of the market and the protection of the players,” she says. “So my previous experience at the head of other regulatory institution was very useful.”
But she doesn’t shy away from praising collaboration as a key part of her success, paying tribute to her colleagues at ANJ and detailing how they factor into her decision making processes.
“Internally, I also favour discussions and large participation of all the staff on complex issues,” she says. “We are a small public body, no more than 70 agents. But each of them is empowered and important, and share the regulatory objectives. So our governing chain is quite flat and we can react quickly to ideas and difficulties.”
“In fact, my idea is to go step by step, based on the collective effort of each, with determination but without any prejudice. Trying to be at the right place, no more, no less.”
Looking at the industry and how it is addressing diversity, Falque-Pierrotin is keen to communicate ANJ’s work with gender inclusivity. However, she notes that women are more present in certain roles and sectors than in others, which makes it difficult to ensure a complete 50/50 split.
“Of course, parity is almost ensured at the ANJ level – ANJ staff is 47% women- but it is still not so easy to hire women among IT profiles where women are largely under-represented,” she continues. “Whereas, women are very well represented among legal profiles.”
Co-founder, All-in Diversity Project
Having co-launched the pioneering All-In Diversity Project with Thakor-Rankin, Kelly Kehn’s initial reaction to the news of her partner’s inclusion in the Top 10 for the first time is that she is “unsurprised”. She adds that she “is thrilled that she [Thakor-Rankin] is finally getting the recognition she so very much deserves”.
Indeed, All-In was not Thakor-Rankin’s first pioneering move during a 25+ year career in the gaming industry, holding senior titles at and more recently as consultant to some of the biggest brands in the gaming industry through her 1710 Gaming business.
“From her early days carving a path as the industry’s first female trader at William Hill, to her international work advising the All India Gaming Federation, her knowledge and impact on the industry is both vast and deep,” says Kehn.
Thakor-Rankin is a strong advocate of responsible and safe gambling. One of her biggest achievements is becoming a regulatory compliance and AML officer and a recognised trainer, with particular focus on player safety, responsible gambling and the prevention of money laundering and crime. She is also a committee member on the US National Council on Problem Gambling.
Kehn highlights that Thakor-Rankin is a strong supporter of improving the industry through better diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and safety.
“Christina has been a driving and influential force within the industry, as well as one of our strongest supporters of other women in the industry,” Kehn continues.
Kehn adds that the representation Thakor-Rankin depicts is necessary for attracting more women to the industry – and incentivising them to stick around.
“If we want to recruit more women, we not only need to say that, but we also need to promote the women within our organisations to visible roles,” says Kehn. “Besides being welcoming and accessible to prospects, we also need to focus on supporting women currently employed into leadership roles.”
“We are not only seeing less women coming in at entry level, but we are also seeing more women leave our workforce in the later stages of their careers. This indicates a glass ceiling, but also indicates that our businesses may not have the practice and policy in place to support senior leadership.”
This is just one of the many reason why Thakor-Rankin and Kehn co-founded the All-In Diversity initiative, and why Kehn appreciates initiatives such as Most Influential Women.
“We’ve made little progress toward gender equity at C-level as well as the non-executive level. If we are to achieve gender equity faster, we need initiatives, like Most Influential Women, to help us accelerate that process.”
Profiles by Marese O’Hagan and Berta Puignou
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