In the video game industry what sets successful companies apart from others is their creativity and ability to innovate. And numerous studies reveal that having a diverse workforce leads to more innovation and creativity. King (a division of Activision), the creators of the widely popular game Candy Crush, recognized this and saw the need for their organization to support more diversity in their workforce. To do so, King has developed several initiatives with mentorship playing a primary role.
Frances Light, Global Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at King shares in an interview,
“Building a team of people from different backgrounds and with different experiences allows for a more diverse approach and, ultimately, games that reflect the diverse audiences who play them, which is vital to a creative industry such as ours.”
Women @ King needed support through mentorship
Through numerous internal surveys and lots of conversations with employees and teams organized by King’s Women@King employee resource group (ERG), they found that non-male Kingsters “didn’t feel they had equal ability to express opinions, didn’t have access to an equal share of career opportunities, and felt they lacked confidence.”
King couldn’t allow this to go on.
They made the decision to give women and non-binary employees confidence and empowerment in their roles through a mentorship program within their Women@King employee resource group. The program would be called “Kicking Glass.”
How could King manage a mentorship program at scale?
Diversity-focused mentorship programs are a great way to support and empower minority employees in their careers, help them develop their skills and network to increase leadership succession while fostering strong company culture.
But pairing over 200 women with leaders across the organization was a huge administrative task. Additionally, how could King manage all these pairings and make sure they were meeting and growing together?
They needed a solution to manage their mentorship program at scale. When looking for solutions, King was introduced to Together.
King wanted to democratize opportunities for members of their ERG to gain access to future leadership roles. To do this, they needed to provide them with one-on-one training and development with executives through mentoring relationships.
Empowering women to choose their mentors
The process of pairing over 200 employees with mentors can take weeks of back-and-forth if done manually. But with Together it’s easy. Using Together’s mentoring software, King sent out a registration email to all their ERG members. They’d be invited to join the program by completing a registration questionnaire that collects information like their role, experience level, and the skills or goals they wanted to develop or achieve.
Leveraging Together’s pairing algorithm to form meaningful mentoring relationships
Using this information, Together’s pairing algorithm supported King in successfully matching mentees with mentors based on the skills they wanted to develop and the experience the mentors had. Mentees could shortlist their favourite mentors and request to match with them. Once a pairing was approved the mentoring relationship would last 6 months with sessions each month.
For King, they were able to connect members of their ERG with relevant mentors seamlessly and at scale. For the mentees, it was an exciting experience because they had the opportunity to choose the leaders they wanted to be mentored by.
In addition to pairing mentors and mentees, King’s Kicking Glass program also paired members together for peer training. It delivered training around topics like cultivating a growth mindset, stepping up with confidence, being resilient leaders, and unlocking your personal influencing power. Members of King’s Women @ ERG would pair up with a buddy to complete the training.
It provided valuable networking and peer mentoring opportunities. And since the program was run virtually, a member of their Women @ ERG in their Stockholm office could connect with another member at their London location. Their peer mentoring and buddy training strengthened the community of women at King.
Customizable mentoring session agendas
For each of the 6 months, each mentoring relationship has customizable agendas to guide their conversations. For example, depending on the goals of the mentee, there are agendas on:
- Setting career goals
- Role shadowing
- Skill development
- Problem-solving a particular challenge
- Growing their network
Each agenda would include guiding questions, links to relevant articles, Ted Talks, or other resources to help the mentee and mentor have a meaningful and beneficial conversation. They’d also be encouraged to determine action items to work through before the next session.
King’s Kicking Glass mentorship Program successfully organized ~250 pairings with members of their Women @ ERG with leaders across their organization. Additionally, on a rating scale of 4, mentors and mentees had an average score of 3.9.
On a rating scale of 4, mentors and mentees had an average score of 3.9.
Positive feedback from mentors and mentees
Together’s pairing feedback reports collected feedback from pairings. Some of the feedback included:
- “I enjoy my sessions with my mentor, as they are always informative and provide tangible recommendations for me to grow personally and professionally.”
- “[my mentor] taught me a lot about confidence, how to plan for the future and organize my thoughts. Very happy to have been paired with her!”
- “[My mentor] was very generous in giving me insights and orientation towards setting my next goals. This session helped me to clarify some aspects for my career path as well as motivated me to approach the next steps I need to do.”
- “We had a great talk about how to improve work-life balance and shared some tips. We will discuss how we implemented those tips in the coming weeks and reevaluate next time we speak to each other. We will also talk about what personal goals we want to set and achieve for our personal growth this year.”
Expanding mentorship globally at Activision
The success of the program attracted attention from other business units across King and its parent company, Activision. Kicking Glass’ program managers, started to get calls from other departments wanting their own mentorship programs.
The amount of interest at Activision for more mentoring programs has been the catalyst for plans to expand the program to provide mentoring opportunities between members across all their ERGs globally. This means continued support for women and non-binary Kingsters to gain access to career-changing mentorship.
Bringing more diversity to their hiring
The attention the Kicking Glass program has brought to diversity at Activision has led to more balanced hiring. Frances Light, Global Director of DEI at King shares,
“Back in 2018, we took a look at our intake for the year. We found that only 34% of our new hires that year were women. We realized that we needed to close this gap, so we planned and set a target to reach 40% in 2019. We were delighted when we met this! Following this achievement, we’re working toward achieving hiring parity as soon as possible, a goal we believe is a first for a games company of our size.”
Introducing Evergreen mentoring (mentoring at any time)
King has a lot of demand for more mentorship. For that reason, they’re also making plans to move from a cohort-based mentoring program to an Evergreen mentoring program.
- Cohort mentoring programs only allow pairings to take place during specific times. After that, the relationships last for 6 months. All pairings have the same start and end date.
- Evergreen mentoring programs allow mentoring relationships to take place at any time.
By building an Evergreen mentoring program, Activision can allow mentoring to become a part of the organizational culture. Anyone, at any time, can explore available mentors on Together’s platform and ask to match with them. Evergreen programs are an excellent way for organizations to make mentoring available to everyone in their company.
King is a leading interactive entertainment company for the mobile world, with 249 million monthly active users all around the world playing one or more of their games, including franchises such as Candy Crush, Farm Heroes, Pet Rescue and Bubble Witch. King was acquired by Activision Blizzard Inc. in 2016 and has studios in Sweden, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.