Pandemic recession especially tough on women since they have to accept less work in order to take care for parents or children, at Sunday Readings.
The multitude of difficult choices the COVID pandemic is forcing on everyone in the gaming industry has had an outsized impact on women.
Pandemic recession especially tough on women
“Women have been set back 10 years,” said Holly Gagnon, the former CEO of Seneca Gaming Corp. and the founder of HGC Hospitality Gaming Consulting. “This pandemic has absolutely made women make very tough choices and to accept less work so they can caretake for parents or children.”
Gagnon spoke during a Virtual Global Gaming Expo panel discussion on “The C-Suite in a Sea of Change.” Christie Eickelman, vice president of global marketing for Gaming Laboratories International, and Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill US, the largest sportsbook operator in the United States, also were on the panel. Roberta Perry of Roberta Perry & Associates, a business development and strategies consultant, moderated.
Econofact, a non-partisan publication that focuses on economic and social trends, reported that the COVID recession is the first to affect women substantially more than men. While the unemployment rate among U.S. women rose by 12.8 percentage points between February and April, the rate among men rose by 9.9 points. From February to August, women’s average work hours dropped by 19 percent, versus 12 percent for men. Other countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and Spain, saw a similar impact.
Eickelman, who also is president of Global Gaming Women, said the organization will focus on creating opportunities for women.
“We want to make sure that even past 2021, the women who are coming back into the (gaming) environment are welcomed and they have the opportunity and resources they need.”
The three panelists agreed that resiliency, along with decisiveness, communication and empathy, are essential to leading through a crisis such as the pandemic recession.
Asher, drawing on his experience in dealing with the impact of 9/11 and the 2008 recession on the industry, said he often told worried co-workers, “The end of the world happens only once, and this is not it.”
As COVID began to surface, William Hill US was gearing up for all the action surrounding March Madness, among the first major sporting events to be called off. Gagnon was still with Seneca Gaming, which had enjoyed a record month.
“Because of the divided political nature that we’re in, people look to their company’s leaders to help guide through these troubling times,” Asher said.
While 2021 is unlikely to be as profitable for the industry as 2019 was, he said, “There’s no doubt that the gaming business is going to recover.”
People are adapting by wearing masks and keeping socially distant, while casinos and other employers are accepting the concept of working remotely.
“You don’t want to be stuck in time,” Eickelman said, adding that GLI made sure furloughed employees had access to resources to learn new responsibilities they might have upon returning to work or “moving their lives forward.”
Gagnon predicted more casinos and customers switching to nonsmoking.
“I think this time has created an opening for evolution and change in our industry,” she added. “I am a firm believer in gaming, and the casino business is going to thrive through this and see better times.”
Eickelman also was optimistic for the industry and for the women working in it.
“We will get through this, and we’re going to be stronger for this in the end,” she said.
Gagnon also encouraged the women of gaming to persevere.
“We need diversity in our organizations,” she said. “It makes us more profitable, and it’s the right thing to do.”
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