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Hi, I’m Na’Tosha!  I work as Lead of Engineering Tools in R&D here at Unity, and I write and tweet about various things.  One of the issues I’m most passionate about is actually a social issue: how we can increase the prevalence of women in technical organizations.

When I was at GDC back in March, I talked to several developers who were all running into the same problem: they wanted the development teams in their studios to be more diverse, particularly in terms of increasing the number of women on their teams, but they didn’t know how to make it happen.

It’s a hard problem, no doubt. You can’t force diversity of any kind – or, well, you can try to, but you’re probably not going to end up with a maintainable result.  This is because diversity is actually just an outcome – it’s a byproduct of a healthy organization. While it’s true that you can’t just make diversity happen, you can encourage it to grow by focusing on making your studio as inclusive as possible.


While there’s no authoritative answer regarding how to increase inclusivity in a workplace,  since we at Unity have recently launched a series of “Women in Gaming” workshops, I thought it would be timely to share some of the tips I think work best.

  1. Review your wording — everywhere!  How do your job descriptions read?  Do they encourage only “rock stars” to apply?  Statistically, most developers are average – most of us fall into that fat part of the bell curve.  Additionally, many of the best engineers, those that do fall into that tiny, desirable sliver of the bell curve, often suffer from impostor syndrome – they won’t self-identify as rock stars.

Do your job descriptions have long wishlists of “required” skills that are nearly impossible for a single person to fulfill?   You may have heard this statistic before, but it’s worth mentioning again: men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women hold back unless they meet 100% of them.  

Putting these two together: by using exclusive language and/or unrealistic requirements in your job descriptions, you can inadvertently miss out on a big, viable portion of your candidate pool.  Instead, focus on only the few actually required skills, and spend the rest of the posting talking about how the candidate will make an impact within the team and organization.  Instead of appealing to “rock stars”, help candidates fit themselves into the role.

  1. Look for biases in your hiring processes.  An important element to focus on here is making sure that you don’t have a homogenous sourcing pipeline.  Logically, if you don’t have a diverse set of inputs to your hiring process, you won’t have a diverse output.  Make sure your job listings are not only posted in the usual areas, but actively circulated among forums and mailing lists for minority-oriented organizations and user groups.  Make sure you are working with the right recruiters, preferably ones who emphasize and have experience with building diverse teams.  You don’t want anyone inadvertently screening qualified applicants out of your candidate pool before you even get to see the applications.
  1. Avoid hiring exclusively from the network of people you and your employees already know.  This is such an easy trap to fall into.  After all, hiring people we know is so much more comfortable, right?  We already know them.  We’ve adjusted to their personality quirks, and we’re familiar with their strengths and weaknesses.  But, given the choice, we, as humans, tend to pick friends who are similar to ourselves.  So if we hire only from our own networks, we end up hiring more people like us and making our networks even more homogenous as they grow.
  1. Review your benefits.  People from different demographics have different needs in their working environments.  How do you handle maternity leave or religious holidays?  Do you have flexible working hours, flexible dress code, etc.?   Your compensation package and company policies can be excellent ways to demonstrate your support of a diverse workforce.  A great starting point is simply to ensure (and advertise!) flexible working hours for employees to deal with family or personal matters.
  1. Brand your organization as an organization supportive of diversity.  If you have the resources, you can launch your own diversity initiatives.  Start with a small, one-day conference, or even just a social event — but make sure to advertise the event in the communities for your target demographics.

Even if you don’t have the resources to launch your own diversity initiatives, your studio can still support diversity by being vocal about supporting others’ initiatives.  You can also offer your workspace as a meetup location for local user groups or organizations geared towards bringing minorities in the tech world together.

I can’t guarantee that doing these 5 things will improve the diversity of your team, but I can guarantee that each one contributes toward an environment in which it can blossom and flourish.


77 replies on “Do You Want to Make Your Studio More Diverse?”

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I wont even argue with the topic here I just want to send a message to UT

Next time you decide to raise awareness about any topic and want to make a difference somehow by blog posting about it and then proceed to lecture people in the comments… do your homework first.

If you want to show us something is wrong and something must be done give us empirical data about it. The UT comments in this blog post are filled with anecdotal evidence and pre established bias. This is why this looks like a tumblr post.

You shouldn’t want to make your team more divers in terms of race, sex, or whatever. You shouldn’t not want to either. In fact, you shouldn’t care at all. You should hire the best team for the job, not hire based on balancing out the number of genitals in the room.

I totally agree with you ! we can’t hire someone just because it’s a womam or a man, we must hire the one with more skills and experience

I felt the need to comment on this considering all the negativity in the comments. While I do agree with others that I in general would like to see more tech-focused game dev and graphics-related posts rather than business-oriented, I really do like this post.

Most good business leaders understand the economic value of diversity. How a team of mixed men and women creates a better social atmosphere than one of purely men or women, and how people with different backgrounds can contribute with new insights, perspectives and social networks to a company compared to a strictly homogeneous group.

The title of the article is “Do you want to make your studio more diverse?”, so the idea is not to convince people to understand the value of diversity, but rather to inspire those who do how they can make a change.

1. This is such a good point in general, not only regarding diversity. By posting job descriptions with unrealistic requirements, you risk missing out on humble people that meet 80% of the qualifications and instead might attract those that only meet 60% but have a strong “sales” personality. They might be better sellers and promoters of their own skills, but might be much worse coders/artists, and their personality might cause a lot of social friction. Of course you want to hire the best of the best, but you must remember that those who sell themselves as the best are usually not the people you seek.

2. This is somewhat obvious, but a great reminder. E.g. that you need to reach out to diverse job boards if you want to find more diverse people to hire.

3. Definitely a dangerous trap in any hiring process. While there’s obvious value in hiring people you (or your employees) know, because you have more information about them, there’s also the risk that you hire friends only because they’re friends (or family), rather than because they’re the best for the company. To me, it’s somewhat of a shortcut. For a startup studio, it might be a good idea to get started, but for a larger established company, it might impose some serious loss of opportunities.

4. It’s correct that if we want to hire more diverse people, we need to be more open-minded about diverse ideas of working hours, dress-codes, benefits etc, which would likely be of value for existing employees as well.

5. Proclaiming yourself as a company supportive of diversity is likely a good idea if you want to attract people who feel they belong to a minority group, such as women in a technological environment. But it must be done the right way, as it can be misused as well (see Wesley’s comment).

Again, great article, keep up the good work!

Hear, hear, on point #1 from the original article and this comment. I’ve been in engineering for 30 years. Some of the best engineers I have met are extremely humble about their skills, and some of the worst are very confident. Especially in tech, this is important, because some of the overconfident types are just marking time in engineering while they look for a path into management. There’s nothing wrong with management aspirations, but it may not be the best selection criterion if you are trying to hire a good developer or engineer.

This issue transcends demographic groups — as with many diversity-related issues, it happens that the wisest pro-diversity approach may also be the wisest overall approach.

Anyone who feels like this and previous Unity blog posts are too stridently political – check out the Unreal Engine by Epic Games. Their communications are always tacetly apolitical, light-hearted, diplomatic, technocratic.

Thank you, but if and when I do decide to use Unreal Engine, it’ll be based on the merits and capabilites of the engine over Unity and how it’ll suit my development needs(which should be the only thing that matters, am I right?), not over politics, or lack thereof.

It seems that this is where Unity 3D and I part ways.

This article was both well written and well intentioned; I take no offense to it, and will respectfully decline to involve myself in the agenda war seen here in the comments.

However, this is one of several recent posts discussing the issue of gender/racial politics. While I don’t dispute that these are indeed issues that should be discussed, I honestly don’t feel that this is the right platform for them. At the end of the day, when I come home from work, I want to relax and read more about game development and this engine, not more of the political issues I’ve had to hear about throughout the rest of my day. Although I don’t doubt that the community surrounding the various other engine choices are equally involved in this discussion, there are many that (for now) have not felt the need to blend politics and development on their blog. I feel that I would be best off in their care instead.

Lastly, I want to remind everyone that those who choose to shut down communication by calling people ‘discriminatory sexist racist bigots’ or want the mods to come in here and decide ‘good’ comments from ‘bad’ comments, are no better than the people they are dismissing. You all, on both sides of the argument, are better than this.

I apologize for any miscommunication in the above, as English is not my first language.

I doubt it’s politics what’s being discussed here; rather, company organization. If you’d like to set up your company in any other way, just dismiss the post. “Parting ways” with a product based on how much you subjectively dislike its organization is an absurd business decision.

“is an absurd business decision.”

You assume he has a business, which I highly doubt he has. I think the majority of commenters here who are disappointed about this “political” blog post are just hobbyists.

Is this a game engine company or a social issue outlet? Seriously, please don’t ever post this stuff on here again.

When I did my MSc in Computer Science, it was before the WWW was anything significant. JANET was a thing. NeXt computers were very exciting, and I learned to code from Kernighan and Ritchie’s book, “The C Programming Language”. I had to wait to get into university to try out on a real computer what I had read and practised in pencil on the pages of my precious (and expensive) book. Sounds like the Dark Ages, right? Well, back then, I had no idea that there was a male hegemony over computers because there was no-one to suggest there was. Working with computers was just a thing that humans did.
Fast-forward to 2016. My games-loving, would-be coder teenage daughter walks away from working with computers because of this presumed male hegemony. How many others walk away? How much talent is lost? How idiotic and short-sighted is this presumed male hegemony? What a terrible waste of potential. Not just hers, but the companies who could have benefited, her country, which could have benefited, and the planet, which could have benefited
Think of the opportunity cost! The potential loss to economic gain. The potential loss to human gain. That is the point.

Yes, this.
I know several women including myself that enjoy doing tech and computer things as a hobby, but in the end chose to work in different fields.

1. Review your wording, everywhere.
That I agree with. And in such a sort time I’ll find errors and lack of conciseness in what I write here. Actual good writing is amongst the most difficult things to do in any language. And yes, I, as an experienced typical IT nerd that is regularly mocked in popular culture remember the humiliation of reading a job description that wanted ‘rock star’ developers. I also remember the anger of seeing many huge, expensive job ads and seeing them using a picture of a male model that looked like a basketball superstar and a female model that looked like runway model and the text of the job ad stating only Ivy Leaguers need apply. Mind you, I have worked with IT workers that are very tall and very beautiful and female and male but hey, the media is obsessed with the young, thin blonde fashion model females and young, tall, dark, and handsome men and now they are going to shame me with their diversity advertising and diversity crusade because I chose the job I chose and I don’t look like either of the sort of people that the mass media holds up as the ideal couple? Should I hold those innocent sort of blonde models and tall, dark, and handsome people up for scorn because they are generally misused by popular culture to imply the rest of us are biased against them? No, of course not and likewise should all the rest of us not be help up for scorn by the mass media and government via these diversity charades. And now how can I possibly be both of them at the same time? We want to make everybody happy don’t we? Or maybe I can’t make everybody happy because they don’t really care do they? It’s a power play. Someone’s always got something to complain about, that’s power in their minds, and if it’s not, then they are seeking government favor via shamelessly parading the diversity theme while they grovel for those government contracts. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Oh no, I said the horse was a him why not a her? Well, wonder what that doesn’t prove. Just maybe I’ll be who I am because of the choices I made, because of the legal choices society before me made, and my gender, ethnicity, sexuality, weight, age, nationality, and religion are irrelevant to those things.

2. Look for biases in your hiring processes.
Wrong. It’s wrong to take an innocent word like bias and imply that people’s legal preferences are evil in some way. You have no bias? Then how can you hope to hire a qualified worker at all really? How can you be safe? How can you be innocent? You’d better have a bias and that would be to hire the most highly qualified worker that has demonstrated they obey the laws of the jurisdiction for which they will be working in. How can one be biased to begin with when they hire workers and they simply hire the best qualified candidates that obey the laws of the jurisdiction in which they will be working when those that did not apply and would make the workforce diverse are making their own legal choices and leave your business less diverse as a reflection of their choices, not yours? Really, stop with the implicit accusations of bigotry. On the one hand those in IT are derided in the mass media as undesirable and having poor taste and simultaneously blamed as being biased (code word for bigoted) when those that are deemed as having good taste and desirable make the choice of avoiding those nerdy IT men. Wow.

3. Avoid hiring exclusively from the network of people you and your employees already know.
This one I mostly agree with. Another mediocre copy-cat new social start-up with Angel investors and you find out that really the only thing that team has going for them is they attend Stanford or one of the other high-class universities and are favored by the right professors? That is clearly bigotry in action. However, you should hire locally if possible. We have a situation were I live such that all the new IT work that’s arrived in a traditionally impoverished area via government interference has only resulted in people being hired that have lost their jobs in the Washington, DC area or decided, you know, I could do without that 2 hours in the car everyday in the Washington, DC area and meanwhile qualified locals aren’t honestly considered. As new computer science graduates which no jobs in my hometown for sure, I remember a college friend and I both being flown to a job interview with a business with huge government contracts. What sort of information technology experience did we have in common? None, except our computer science degrees and the only work experience we had in common was as janitors. Neither one of us got the job, I guess being janitors with newly earned degrees in computer science and mathematics was not the who they were looking for despite the fact they read of transcripts and resumes before the flew us to the interviews.

4.Review your benefits. People from different demographics have different needs in their working environments.
Wrong. You can’t vary benefits based on demographics as that is bigotry and transparently opens up business when it is advantageous to workers to invent new claims of new types of bigotries for more monetary and time concessions from businesses. The end result of such behavior and a culture that encourages that type of reward system is the dishonest are rewarded and the honest suffer with less simply because they are not a member of one of the sets of people with physical or cultural characteristics that have nothing to do with whether they are actually the best qualified for the job. This is really a matter of deferring holidays to the local legal jurisdictions your business operates in and giving each person a small number of personal holidays to use for whatever reason, religious of not, they prefer. Mind you it’s not a legal requirement to give everybody a small set of personal days but that’s being respectful to your workers and avoids your business being cowed into attracting the wrong kind of workers of the type that are always looking for new reasons to take offense.

5.Brand your organization as an organization supportive of diversity.
Wrong. And in a word, don’t. Such behavior is wearing someone else’s heart on your sleeve. Why on earth would anyone do that? You are suggesting innocent people and organizations should wear a scarlet letter. I am stating your suggestion is wrong and bigoted. I support the laws for the jurisdictions my business operates in and I decline to turn my hiring process into a political protest with no legal authority that so my business can subverted by the politically corrupt. I think the world has had enough of the politically corrupt and morally bankrupt. The time to embrace diversity is when people make their own legal choices for their own careers and their own lives is to respect those choices and stop pretending that it’s some voiceless, mostly unheard of businesses that intimidated everybody into making the choices they made. Who are you trying to kid here? You have to both earn your qualifications and apply for a job to even have a chance to be considered.

Really such behavior is ridiculous and amounts to being cowed into implying your organization is guilty of something it almost assuredly is not. Your business has only the need to obey the laws of the jurisdictions in which it operates and to hire workers qualified to do the job. If your workers aren’t qualified to do the job and those lacking in qualifications cause the general public harm because you were considering diversity and not qualifications to do the job at hand, well then your business potentially has much bigger problems then your work staff does not reflect the average demographics of a nation, state, or other legal jurisdiction because the different demographics decided to pursue other careers. Look how much the demographics of the USA has changed since 1970 and you are told you should be behaving like a bigot by seeking out workers to match the US demographics are some particular point in time rather than simply hiring people that have demonstrated that they are actually interested in your job via their qualifications and actually having applied for that work without being told we are seeking you because you have all these irrelevant to the job characteristics. Such non-job qualifications are not inspiring me to think such an employee actually has interest in the job at hand. Should I also seek out suppliers of my oil paints, carving wood, and so on that are diverse? Given where I live and where the natural resources are that are used in oil paints and carving wood maybe that’s making me look like a ridiculous coward desperately seeking societal approval that will never come and that is ignoring the truth of nature and supply and demand so I can think I look especially righteous in the eyes of a bunch of bullies. Why won’t that societal approval ever come? Because bullies always invent something new to bully you with so the sooner you learn to say no to the bullies the sooner you can run a good business and stick to your moral principals. Your business has legal obligations, besides sound business practice, to always choose the best qualified workers that are actually interested in the work you are hiring them to do.

These are solid ideas but that last point (number 5) doesn’t really sit well with me.

Given that hosting initatives like that for branding purposes seems a lot like pandering. And as a queer person (especially during pride month) these sorts of issues are rather grating to a lot of us because we’ve been pandered to by corporations and politicians just so they can get an uptick in their bottom line or a few choice photo ops. None of that actually helps any of us and every year there are more and more queer folk that are voicing their displeasure at being marketing tools.

I suspect there are more and more women and other groups that are also equally concerned about the usurpation of their shared identities so as to make a brand look good in the eyes of the public.

If you want to do good, do good. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Doing it to make yourself or your brand look good cheapens the virtue of the good deeds because the intended altruism of the exercise becomes sullied in it’s self-serving nature.

And people are often not very inclined to forgive it if they feel like they’re being used in such a manner.

But the rest of those points? Those are solid suggestions and I’ll be sure to forward them to the people who make hiring decisions (whether they take heed is another matter entirely though.)

I fully agree with the article as posted, but there seems to be a curious double standard at play here.

I mean if this conversation had of happened on the forums, then I’d fully expect the community moderators to be zapping posts and laying down the ban hammer by now. But over here on the main site, some pretty decent BS is getting a free pass.

I say we get the mod’s in here to sort this mess out!

This post keeps talking about “forced diversity” being bad, but yet you still present ideas that are such. I don’t know of any employer who is looking to attract average Joe. List the stuff you need, then list “good to haves”. Lowering those requirements will attract a huge amount of unskilled applicants, increasing work for HR && requiters. Sorry, but if you’re not confident in your skills, I’m not interested in you. You need a “can-do” attitude, you need confidence in your ability to learn how to do difficult tasks. When I say, “can anyone do XXX”? You need to be willing to stand up and say “If nobody else has prior knowledge in such area, I will be interested in tackling it.” Sorry, but if the majority of women aren’t in that mindset as you suggest, then those specific women don’t have the skills needed to succeed in my opinion. Instead of attacking employers for not catering specifically to certain groups of people, why don’t we attack the reasons why there is such a discrepancy in the first place. Let’s stop the causes of sexism && racism not simply cover up the effects of it.

That’s exactly the point – most industry postings list “good to have” as required, fully expecting that people will apply anyway.
The suggestion isn’t about catering to groups that don’t have the right skills, it’s about not catering to the single group that consistently overestimates its skills.

I don’t see how you can possibly say how having higher standards is limiting diversity. Run a campaign telling women to apply to more jobs or something, instead of saying “lower job requirements”.

Again, it’s not about having high standards – it’s about pretending your standards are higher than they actually are.

@Levi I get what you’re trying to say, but it doesn’t really work like that. Companies set what they want and settle for less if someone of full qualifications is not found. Nobody just throws qualification out for fun.

It always amuses me when randos freak out about pro-diversity stances and threaten to go use competitor’s products. As if Epic and Crytek don’t have the exact same pro-diversity stances. :p

On a side note, it might be a good idea to make sure that only registered users who’ve had accounts for longer than a day can post comments It’s far too common for randos with nothing to do with a community to pop in, raise a fuss, then scurry back into the hole they crawled out of.

This is a super well-written, articulate article with well-founded points. I thought I was good at making an inclusive workspace, but I’ve now got some ideas where I can improve.

To the author and to Unity: Please ignore the negativity. We need voices like these.

Well the tech guys who gave the interviews should now know anything about the person (age, study, sex etc). something just online.
That’s the only way for not being biased.
If you want more “diversity” in your company, you might end up having positive discrimination (hiring women only because they are women, and not because of the skill).

Hi Na’Tosha (or anyone at Unity) — maybe “Technology” isn’t the right category for this post. Unity has the scale to take the mission of democratizing game development beyond the engine (and I’m glad that you are attempting to do that), but it is sort of nice having categories to filter those things. I was going to reply to one of the “please talk about tech here” posts with “Well, the blog is categorized… if you just want to read about the tech, just follow that category” before seeing that this was actually posted there.

Look at the stack of applicants for any given game development position – almost exclusively males.

I realize the author of this article is trying to feign that this isn’t about discrimination, but simply about increasing the breadth of the applicant pool – what happens in reality isn’t so pleasant.

But the applicant pool is exactly what this post is speaking towards if you don’t make that (unsubstantiated) assumption about intent. I’m sure that there are cases where what happens is, like you say, not so pleasant… but if that isn’t what is actually being proposed, it doesn’t seem very relevant.

When you hire less qualified individuals […]

Why would anyone do that? Why would anyone advocate for that? This blog post didn’t. The author didn’t. In fact, at every turn people from Unity (including the author) have been pointing that out to clarify the intent.

Want more diversity? Encourage more diverse individuals to train and educate themselves

I don’t disagree that there is a lot of work that needs to be done in other areas relating to education and going back much further than hiring. But what would be more encouraging than knowing that there is actually opportunity to use that training and education to make a living making games? If I was a technically-minded girl looking forward at all of the possibilities for my education and career, I think a few minutes reading about the state of the industry would do a lot to discourage that career path.

> Though I realize the author of this article is trying to feign that this isn’t about discrimination, but simply about increasing the breadth of the applicant pool – what happens in reality isn’t so pleasant.

Why not assume the author meant the words they wrote, and not the secret meaning you decoded from them?

Well said.
As long as specific groups are *not* being kept out of the field, I could care less. I have no idea about the color, gender, religion, or sexual orientation of the people that designed that level of the kickass game I just went through. That is all invisible to the end user.
But if that game isn’t so kickass because someone less qualified but of the “right” PC color, gender, religion, or sexual orientation got the job because of any of those personal identifiers, I’ll also never know.
Because I’ll read the Steam reviews and I won’t buy it.
Hire the best, make the sales.
Hire the people that make you look good, you won’t get my money. And, judging by Sunset, you won’t get any money.
Bottom line is that the people most concerned with the biology and behavior of game developers do not play video games and will never give you a dime. They are just content with using you as fodder for their own blogs and Youtube channels.

Hi Unity,

I’m a logical person and TBH I don’t really “see” different genders or identifications, I just see a fellow human being who might be good or not. I really enjoyed the previous workshop blog entry for women, and felt it was a positive move.

This blog post, however well intended, has had a poor effect on me. I am here to use a game engine, to develop my game. I am not here for politics, and at minimum, comments should have been disabled. I don’t see what there is to gain from engaging in slanging matches with occasional swearing. It’s clear some staff are passionate, but the line between passionate and unprofessional is often crossed.

I’d rather have just read the blog, agreed with the points and been educated a little more about accessibility. The comments and discussion after are what I feel lets it down.

Can we get some grownups writing comments on this post?

The optics are brutal – true or not it creates the impression Unity isn’t sufficiently focused on their product, but rather distracted by social issues.

Dude…this is a blog post. Written by an individual about a real issue in the field of game development. Not everything on here is a press release or about features. Like a recent post about hunting down an elusive bug (which was interesting). I can see how one might want more content about the status of the engine itself or other topics, but to say that somehow this post gives that impression is kind of ridiculous. Go and watch the 2 hour Unite video and you will see a lot of people who care about the product and are listening.

And in case you hadn’t noticed, you’ve actually got your employees in a flame war with your customers…

Says the guy pouring gasoline on the fire.

There is so much hate and ignorance in these blog comments…it makes me sad. Can we get a “flag” (and maybe downvote) feature to filter out this nonsense?

If you read this post and took away that we’re suggesting *not* hiring by merit, or prioritising diversity over merit, then to be honest – you suck at reading. Read it again more carefully.

The post is saying: Try to make sure you hire by merit from the widest pool of people possible. It’s saying there may be people who would be the best at the job out there who are put off by your biased wording, inflexible work environment, company image, etc, and therefore don’t even apply. You don’t even get to the stage of judging their merit because they didn’t come to you.

At no point in this post does it suggest filling quotas or prioritising diversity over merit. And yet almost every negative comment on here claims it does. It simply says – if you follow these tips you’re more likely to find the best people for your company, and diversity will be a natural emergent side-effect.

That is exactly the idea being reinforced here though – that women have all these obstacles they need to overcome and you know what? We’re going to talk about them non-stop like they only impact one gender. We’re going to beat you over the head with it until you agree with us.

I’ve been in the industry for 20 years and I’ve worked with many technically inclined women that didn’t need to rely on this new culture of catering to a sex for the sake of doing it. All this new attitude has done is make men so afraid of women in the workplace that they want to actively avoid them for fear that they may decide to use the sexism card to ruin their career.

Hiring for the sake of diversity over merit is terrible business advice.

Hiring random people you don’t know or trust for the sake of diversity rather than people you have worked with, know and trust is terrible business advice.

Here’s my thoughts on how hiring should be done: Hire whoever does well at their job and works well in the workplace. Screw gender quotas, screw forced “diversity”

Just hire whoever is best for the job.

I am happy. This post is extremely well written, well founded and pragmatic. I come from a background in business and frankly I will say this post is aligned with both the literature in HR and with real market practice. I really am surprised to see such a post in Unity’s blog, not because I am unfamiliar with the unfortunate statistics regarding Women in gaming organizations, but because with such a quality I would like to see it spread wider and wider across more markets. And unlike unfortunately a lot of what is written on the matter today in many venues, this post is moderate and practical, offering real solutions over shouting about mankind’s unsolvable problems. No prejudices of any kind bothering true dialogue, a great and inspiring read.

My only qualm with the post personally, and what I believe may have triggered some of the comments here, is that it is a post on diversity. It cites steps to achieve a healthy work environment and thus be welcoming of diversity, which is simply the way to handle it. However as it is now it may seem to imply diversity as an end in itself, while it isn’t the case. Diversity is extremely important and strategic for any organization, regardless of size, it helps to keep your organization innovative, resistant to vices, fresh, broadens vision, among other things, I wouldn’t say today a company can claim to achieve real meritocracy without having had a real chance for everyone to prove their worth regardless of gender, ethnicity, or anything else. But likewise a company doesn’t gain much promoting it as a value in itself either, as a panacea to all organizational problems, it needs to be a part of a true effort with a wider goal, be that goal innovation, keeping up with your costumer base, diversity needs to be anything but cheap institutional marketing, it needs to become part of the culture of the company, to make sense with what the company does, with the other company values, for it to be really successful. If it doesn’t come allied with other initiatives to help work quality, flow of information, individual empowerment, among others, it shall just be an amazing company effort wandering lost in a dry organizational desert.

So a great topic in one of many things people should be paying attention to in a really competitive market like the gaming market today. And a shame so many people, driven by the current polarization this topic has been generating as of late, read this piece as more than what it proposes to be, suggestions on how to handle one of the many problems in organizations today.

One common problem, at least for hiring women, tends to be the fear of women to even try to get into technical careers in the first place. Thus, the pool of qualified women is pretty shallow to start with. I’ve listened to Women’s Tech Radio quite a few times just to get a feel for where women are coming from and this seems to be a very common problem.

If I were to start hiring, I would definitely hire a woman who is more qualified than a man in a heartbeat, and of course the same is true if the man is more qualified. A small business has an enormous amount of risk in hiring anybody since performance per dollar is so tight, so hiring someone who is slightly under-qualified for the sake of diversity just isn’t a practical option much of the time even if they want to. Big companies like Unity, Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc and even many mid-sized companies have the flexability to take on this risk… and they do :)

3rd one is a bit of an unrealistic goal for any studio or company that is one of the smaller ones. Hiring your friends, or people you know is a prominent thing in all of job industry, not just tech development. The diversity there comes from what kind of group of friends decide to establish a company.

Take a game developer studio Colossal Order as example. They have women on their ranks, not because they went out of their way to hire women exclusively but because a group of students decided to establish a company after their graduation, and some of them happened to be women. Recruitment processes can be a painful task for any smaller company so a lot of them ask their own employees “do you have any friends who do this task well?” instead of going through hundreds of CVs and interviews. That is the reality of the job market these days. Want more women in tech? Have more women study it in schools, there they make friends and after graduation they establish companies and invite more of their friends (male or female) in.

As for the whole diversity thing, diversity conferences aren’t going to bring more women to the industry. If they’re not interested in the nature of the job, then they’re not and no amount of diversity in your office is going to change that. In the end it all boils down to whether the individual is willing and capable to do the many menial tasks coding and engineering demands. Coding and engineering is a challenging task, requiring years of study and skill yet the industry does not exactly bring a good enough pay for someone to do it just for the money. You’re not going to find anyone who would hate coding to look for a job in coding no matter how many diversity quotas you might have in your company.

Did you miss the part where it says “Lead of Engineering Tools”. That means leading the team who make the internal engineering tools which the developers rely on to make Unity itself. Which is pretty damn useful.

I’m not a feminist or a progressive, but the advice given here for the most part seems decent. I was talking to a friend once about diversity in tech and he said that a lot of it is due to how flexible men are expected to be as opposed to women. That men are much more likely to be reclassified to a position outside of their specialty if it needs be, because they’ll be expected to adapt and be able to do their new job.

Ultimately, Unity must realize they’re a global organization and their engine is just accessible enough to warrant diversity in games development. Not within the first world, but from the second and third. The goal shouldn’t be to have every organization represent every ethnicity, sex and sexuality, rather to have organizations from all around the world, which you have created a perfect, flexible engine for. If an organization doesn’t represent any ethnicity, it shouldn’t be held guilty. That will cause blatant tokenism which contributes to a lot of issues.

While the message is ultimately good, I do have my critiques towards it and I’ll just write them here.

1. This advice seems to imply catering to insecure people. I’m not a woman, but I don’t know anyone who would be excited to apply for a job saying “Are you average? Then you’re perfect for us!” Of course out of any group, most people are average. Exclusive language is a vetting process to get only the people who strive to be the best to apply. “Are you average” would not only mean that more insecure people will apply, but it may exponentially increase the amount of CVs being sent by people who don’t strive to be the best, swarming the company’s HR department with people who… to be frank do not need to be viewed at all. That’s what internships are for. A better way to get more women excited to join the games industry would be to amplify voices like Roberta Williams, Jade Raymond and even Rhianna Pratchett. The ones who have been saying for decades that the industry is welcoming to women. Maybe if we celebrated women with great achievements, like these, maybe if women don’t have this fear of discrimination and sexism, more women would be inspired to join the industry.

2. This one sounds a bit too much as setting diversity as a goal, rather than the natural outcome of the best hiring practice. Then you have externalizing the issue of diversity to organization who cash in on people being oppressed. The aforementioned people, who instill fear and insecurity preventing women from entering the industry.

3. This is a solid advice, especially in any tech industry. You would want a variety of people with variety of skills, viewpoints and imagination working on your product. Not one vision is perfect, so hire people who are different from you.

4. Again – solid advice. Then again, here in my country, benefits are very generous and I don’t know how it is in the US (or wherever Unity is based). Both parents can get extensive paid parental leave, we have a ton of holidays and our labor law warrants 20 vacation days every year. Not counting the ton of official holidays, weekends, etc.

5. This is the most… problematic one. Making that claim opens the company to a failure of meeting a diversity quota. Again – I think overall this article is overall solid advice, it’s not about the diversity quota… but this one is quite dangerous. Failure to meet diversity quota can mean a studio gets torn apart by the awful media currently running rampant. Not by you. The people who accused Ubisoft of sexism for not including women in AC: Unity, then accused them of exploiting women for PR for including them in AC: Syndicate. This media cannot be given an inch. The same media who kept silent when Ubisoft celebrating women’s day tweeted a picture of the army of women they have working in their Montreal studio. Then there’s that studios that brand themselves as diverse would mean the ones that refuse will be seen as opposing diversity which doesn’t have to be true.

I don’t think a studio should set diversity as a goal, but it should definitely be open to being diverse and realize that people from different cultures will have more to exchange, which will lead to interesting creative ideas flowing and new things being created. I think the people who are blind to this are so far off the deep end they’ve become as lunatic as the most radical of feminists they hate so much. We should celebrate women and minority developers for their creations not their sex or skin color. This is what will make them inspiring to members of their demographics. Celebrate Jade Raymond – creator of Assassin’s Creed, not Brianna Wu, creator of a very bad RPG whose character designs look like they were made by an 8 year old is what I’m saying.

If that’s what you got from the blog post, you misread it.

It’s not about that. It’s about maximizing the number of people you can select from by merit, by making sure you’re not putting off some groups of people from applying in the first place.

At no point in the post does it say you should prioritize diversity over merit.

In fact it literally says “diversity is actually just an outcome … of a healthy organization” which is a really great observation.

I don’t think he misread it. In the beginning of the article it is stated, “they [developers] wanted the development teams in their studios to be more diverse, particularly in terms of increasing the number of women on their teams…” The goal here is not to make the company better, or to hire the best employees for the job, it is simply to diversify who is working at the company.
I think the problem in the article however, is this statement; “diversity is actually just an outcome – it’s a byproduct of a healthy organization.” It leaves the impression that if a studio is not diverse, then it’s not healthy, which I disagree with. In a large company, maybe, but if the studio only has a few individuals (like, I expect, most of the studios that use Unity are) I see no problem if they’re all white males.
Either way, I don’t believe the Unity blog is an appropriate place to be discussing social views.

Wait, wait… I didn’t know we were doing this here and now, but if this is where we offer up suggestions for who “needs to get out” of the game industry my vote goes for this guy and people like him. Is there an official form that I need to fill out?

With Udemy widely available and cheap, as well as unity free to use, the only gatekeeper are the ones unwilling to take the leap. Want diversity? be a badass and make companies want you.

Tech companies worth their weight will hire you based on merit before ANYTHING else. it doesn’t matter what color your skin or hair is.

All the points in the post are about getting more people through the door in the first place, so you can choose the best from a wider group of people. You maximise your candidate pool by not putting people off from applying. Then you select by merit. That’s what is being described. Where exactly is the problem in that?

Oh please, this isn’t about getting more people through the door. If that was it, then it would developed so for all people. Man and woman, black and white. This kind of political cancer needs to get out. You aren’t pushing inclusion, you are pushing a very sexist form of exclusion.

Can you point me to any of the suggested tips above which are aren’t inclusive to all people? The suggestions above are literally about being inclusive to all people – which often the games industry is not. Which suggestion(s) in the blog post exactly do you think are sexist?

Seriously? Tumblr is the place for this kind of posts.

Why would anyone want to make their studio more diverse anyway? We should hire based on merit, not gender, race, whatever. The only reason to hire a female programmer is because she is a better prospecting employee than any of the other candidates. And exactly the same reason should be the only grounds for hiring a male programmer.

You don’t get it do you. The playing field is not level to start with. The games industry isn’t predominantly filled with white men right now because they are somehow inherently better at this stuff, it’s because from childhood all the way through to retirement, they are show through culture, media and society that this field is ‘for them’, and other people (women, non whites, etc) are shown that it’s ‘not for them’. This sometimes happens explicitly but far more often through implied messages that surround you every day.

What you see with diversity initiatives is not unfair selection. It’s encouraging more people to put themselves forward for selection in the first place – who might have otherwise felt like they didn’t belong, or wouldn’t fit in. We will always hire based on merit – we just want to make sure we’re drawing from the most diverse pool of candidates possible.

“The games industry isn’t predominantly filled with white men right now because they are somehow inherently better at this stuff”

First off; that is wrong. As far as I can tell, Nintendo came in in 1984 after the crash and they are Japanese. Heck, asians are about a third of the industry as far as I know.

Secondly; women generally are just less interested in maths and sciences than men, just like how men are less interested in empathy-based jobs (like nursury). Why else would women in the industry predominantely have HR, art or design jobs and not engineering ones? Also, in Biology there are more women than men. guess why that is?

And even if what you were saying is true, it’s INSANE to go with diversity when hiring. The reasoning is very simple; let’s assume that somebody hears that a black woman has been hired for a programming job, and she will be working within the team. If there is no diversity quota BS going on, then well, then the person will respond with ”oh, let’s see what she is good at, and let’s get her up and running”. If there is a diversity quota BS going on, then the response is more likely to be ”a black woman? sure… she can go grab coffee and lunches for the team”. This is not because of racism/sexim, but because the person will assume she is hired not for being professional, having skills and therefore merit, but only for the company to go virtue signaling, while adding nothing to little to the team.

Do you see how destructive that is?

Also, gonna send this to KiA, since P7 send it to Vox but not to KiA. Better we tell them we figured out why Unity got so cancerous over the past months.

Also, fire your CEO.

I totally disagree with you and think some of your conclusions are utterly flawed, but more importantly I really think you might have missed the point of both the original post and the reply. Did you read anything in the reply or original post about a hiring quota? In fact, if that was the goal, wouldn’t this post have been pretty useless? Na’Tosha could have just been like “Want your game studio to be more diverse? Stop hiring men.” Fastest blog post ever, time for a celebratory drink. Instead, she gave a number of suggestions towards encouraging a more diverse group of people to apply. Of course you hire the best applicant… nobody said not to hire the best applicant. But there is zero chance of that applicant being a woman if the only people who applied are ‘some dudes you know’.

women generally are just less interested in maths and sciences than men, just like how men are less interested in empathy-based jobs (like nursury). Why else would women in the industry predominantely have HR, art or design jobs and not engineering ones? Also, in Biology there are more women than men. guess why that is?

Broadly that may be true – but how did it get that way? do you think that’s just the natural way of things? The advertising industry spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Why is that? – because people are impressionable. Messages about how boys, girls, women & men should behave, what they should and shouldn’t do, how they should & shouldn’t act are projected onto us every day from all angles. To the extent that a 5 year old kid already “knows” he shouldn’t be seen wearing pink and will get bullied by other kids at school if he does. Science kits, action & engineering style toys are marketed to boys, and household/caring style toys to girls. Men & women are under enormous pressure from society to act a certain way based on their gender and this initiative is a small step towards correcting that weird unnatural imbalance.

No-one is talking about meeting quotas here.
No one is talking about hiring less-skilled people because they come from a minority.

What we are talking about is making sure that everyone who might have the skills we want feel as though this is a company that is inclusive and welcoming to them. This all goes on way before the interview stage. This is about getting them to come forward for selection in the first place. Read the post again more carefully and maybe you will understand that.

I agree with your point about Nintendo, and all of the Asian(particularly Japanese) game developers that make up a significant part of the industry. However, I don’t just get the impression but I can say with 99.9% confidence that you never read this article, you just saw the word “diversity” and went into apoplectic shock. I’m not even going to debate your points you brought up about workplace diversity because, while they are good points in general, if you made any effort to read the article, you’d see they’re irrelevant to what the article actually mentions.

Never read such a well stated and pragmatic piece that is so informative yet concise. A must read for any TL, HR, and DM person. Congrats!

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