Kay Lee, lead of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) team at Smilegate, speaks during an interview with The Korea Times at the company's office in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Feb. 9. Courtesy of Smilegate
By Baek Byung-yeul
Smilegate has been pursuing the values of diversity and inclusion, which is a rare move for a Korean game company, and these efforts will drive technological innovation and lead them to meet more users, according to the leader of the company's Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) team.
"We have verified that pursuing diversity and inclusion on many aspects has positive effects on the business of the company," Kay Lee, leader of D&I team at Smilegate, told The Korea Times during an interview at the company's office in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Feb. 9. "Since we are an entertainment company that deals with content, we believe that pursuing these values can open up the possibility of expanding users and creating new markets."
Established in 2002, Smilegate is known for popular games such as shooting game "Crossfire" and role-playing game "Lost Ark," which has found global popularity with its high level of perfection and consideration for users.
Smilegate became the first game company here to launch a diversity and inclusion-specialized team last September. The company has been striving to resolve social issues through its social contribution program Hope Studio since 2010, and launched the D&I team to spread a culture of diversity and inclusion so that more users can enjoy their content regardless of age, gender or abilities.
Lee said pursuing these values also means improving the quality of the company's products, as it requires more advanced technology.
"Technology is towards humans. If you have the experience of a minority, it is not sad or painful anymore because we are flowing into an era where you are recognized as you are and where you are given the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities. And technology is accelerating this flow," she said.
"At first, game companies in Western countries drew attention when they introduced game play modes for players with color blindness or color weakness, but now we are taking it for granted. I think that an organization that embraces and utilizes each other's differences could be loved by customers for a longer period of time."
In order to reach more customers from diverse backgrounds, the company's employees also need understanding of the values of diversity and inclusion, and from that perspective, the D&I team is making efforts to foster the culture of inclusion where different perspectives are embarrassed, Lee said.
Smilegate's D&I Council members, who are from various departments including game development, game services, human resources, general affairs, strategy and public relations, pose for a photo during the inauguration ceremony of the council at its office in southern Seoul's Gangnam District, Jan. 30. Courtesy of Smilegate
As part of the efforts, the company launched what it calls the D&I Council on Jan. 30, comprised of leaders from various company departments such as game development, platform services, human resources, general affairs, strategy and public relations and appointed the members as D&I champions.
Lee emphasized the importance of their roles, saying it is imperative to set the tone from the top down because this is the first time for a company to establish such a council and we ensure all of us are accountable for the outcome.
"The members play a role in spreading the D&I perspective pursued by the company by communicating with members in their departments," Lee said.
With the launch of the D&I Council, Lee said she expects that it will take a journey that all company employees will play a role to embed the culture of inclusion.
"We hope that such a culture will be established in which it is natural for anyone to voice their opinions regardless of their position, age or background," she said. "By doing so, it is expected that members of the company will be more diverse and those who use our content and services will eventually expand."
She added the D&I team's efforts to pursue these values will also help the company recruit more talented employees and keep them in the company for a long time.
"People want to work in a more inclusive organization. By enabling them to bring their real self, the employees can contribute to the growth of the company and they can also gain the feeling of inclusion and belonging. Because we are in an industry that deals with human stories, we believe that the objects we need to shed light on should be more diverse," Lee said.
Reporter Baek-Byung yeul (firstname.lastname@example.org,kr)
※ Source: “Pursuing diversity, inclusion spurs innovation at Smilegate” published by The Korea Times on February 20, 2023
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