The NCF Calls for More Women in UK Casino Boardrooms

The National Casino Forum (NCF) has launched a new initiative to get more women into boardroom-level positions at land-based casino operators in the UK.

The NCF is working with the Portas Institute, a peer coaching and experimental training company, to develop a framework for the UK casino industry designed to help operators better understand the restrictions and difficulties that prevent female employees from becoming board members. The aim is to educate UK casino companies on the issue in the hope that solutions can be found.

Tracy Damestani, chief executive of the NCF

Tracy Damestani, chief executive of the NCF ©G3 Newswire.

The scheme will be delivered in the form of 90-minute workshops via conference call or WebEx that are specifically designed to break down silos and improve communication and managing across departments.

Current NCF research undertaken by management consulting company, McKinsey & Company, recently revealed that, of a total 14,000 employees at UK casinos, 40% are female. In addition, 30% of those employed in senior management positions are also female. Despite these figures, very few women are on the boards of UK casino companies.

Tracy Damestani, chief executive of the NCF, has been working closely with Portas to come up with a strategy to increase diversity in the boardroom. The coaching company specialises in what it calls ‘learning to be’. The principle is based on internationally renowned academic and author, Henry Mintzberg’s idea that: “Reflection on natural experience, in the light of conceptual ideas, is the most powerful tool we have for management learning”. Mintzberg, a Canadian, has penned serval books on business and management.

I know many operators are keen to encourage women onto their boards. Tracy Damestani, NCF chief executive

Damestani spoke candidly about the casino industry’s need for greater awareness of how it is perceived from the outside. In the wake of controversy over fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) and a highly-publicised review by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the UK casino business is in need of some positive PR.

Several leading ministers and senior officials at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport are women. The chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which regulates the industry, is Sarah Harrison. Of the four executive directors at the UKGC, two are female. Yet women are hugely underrepresented on the boards of the casino companies themselves, and the NCF appears to be concerned about the message these statistics portrays.

Damestani said: “We don’t want to look like an all-male industry at a senior level, nor do we want to confine women to ‘soft’ roles, such as HR and marketing.”

She added that women are leading in prominent roles across the private and public sectors and that the UK casino industry should be doing more to follow the trend.

The National Casino Forum aims to promote a positive agenda for a well-regulated, socially responsible and economically sustainable casino industry. It offers associate membership to suppliers, lawyers, accountants and others who work with the casino industry.

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