Celebrating Diversity and Inclusion with Pride
As we head to the end of Pride Week in Malta, Why iGaming catches up with Maltese Trevor Westacott to find out his thoughts on being part of the Gay community, and highlighting some of the issues most of us don’t even think of.
What do you do in iGaming, and what is your back story – how did you get into the industry?
I first stepped into the industry through a friend who suggested I joined the company where they worked at the time, NetEnt in a Marketing Role. I spent 7 years at NetEnt working with an amazing team of very talented people, all of whom I am very proud to say spent many years in the team and went on to become leaders, founders and partners across the industry. Last year I left NetEnt as Marketing Director moved to Spain and joined the equally talented Playtech team in Gibraltar where I am VP Marketing. The last year has offered me amazing growth, Playtech is an impressive organization of thousands of passionate individuals and the journey so far albeit remote and through a pandemic has been a very positive one.
As a member of the LGBTQI+ community, I’m sure you experience challenges that large sections of society are unaware of, what might these be?
The LGBTQI+ community suffers anything from very subtle assumption bias to full blown abuse, humiliation and even murder. Living daily with that knowledge contributes to the general feeling of stress and anxiety many of us suffer. We each have our own experiences and the extent of the challenges we experience depends a lot on your level of privilege, background and varied socioeconomical factors.
For example you might want to go out on a date with the person you love, what do you do ? You pick a place, maybe an old favorite book a table and off you go. Have a great time, make good memories. What do I do? Mostly the same but I also have to figure out if the place is LGBTQI+ friendly, many are but across the world there are still many places who will refuse service to a non hetero couple. When I am there I need to be mindful of PDA and the fact that it might offend someone and trigger them to the point of violence. Walking back home in the street, holding hands could also trigger someone. Thankfully this does not happen to often in my circles but the threat is always there in the back of your mind. So you see, the actions are the same, the experience is somewhat different.
Others are not so lucky, particularly in the trans community where, abuse of all kinds is common place even in Malta where it has too often led to murder and suicide.
Have you ever experienced discrimination in the workplace? If so, in what form?
All queer people experience some form of discrimination at work as do all women and all people in minority groups, in my personal experience it has always been internalized homophobia that most don’t even realize they have. There is an automation that triggers when you are a woman, a minority or queer person. A sense that you have to work harder than anyone else to prove yourself and to be taken seriously especially when you are still young, climbing through the ranks you often have the sense that success at work comes at the cost of at least some aspects of your personality needing to be ‘toned down just a little’ or a hell of a lot as the case may be.
The iGaming industry is very active in promoting Inclusion and Diversity, is this reflected within the workplace?
Yes it is and I feel it does this very well. The iGaming industry particularly stands out as a safe haven for the community because it goes beyond the pink washing and tokenism that you regularly see in some other industries. We treat inclusion broadly and as part of our culture, not simply something we do during pride month. In this way even at the point of recruitment we are recruiting like-minded people that continue to foster cultures of inclusion and this is as important today as ever.
What would you like to see as a focus or result of initiatives like Inclusion and Diversity Month, do they have value?
Events like pride month brings the discussion to the fron for a short time and helps set the tone for the next twelve months. These events play a vital role in continuing to get governments around the world to act against discriminatory laws and practices. They help foster a sense of unity and continuity in the community. Most importantly they offer a sense of belonging to the younger and older members in the community who have little experience of what it means to live and survive as a queer person either because of their young age or because when they were young, being out and proud was a life threatening matter.
Any last word?
I want to take the opportunity to thank all the allies out there who help fight the cause for equality alongside us without judgement or condition.