ICE conference organisers promise to raise standards at industry event
Kate Chambers, managing director of Clarion Gaming, one of the organisers of the ICE Totally Gaming event, the industry’s largest conference, has promised that standards relating to the representation of women and gender diversity will be raised.
Chamber’s comments come a week after the 2018 ICE event, before which the chief executive of the UK Gambling Commission, Sarah Harrison, had warned organisers that the Commission would boycott future events should gender diversity not be addressed and women be better represented.
The event is notorious for featuring models to attract visitors to stands, which Harrison called sexist and not at odds with modern societal norms.
Despite the warning, the event went ahead as normal. Journalists from several major newspapers attended the event and described promotional girls and sexist portrayals of women in abundance.
This was then further corroborated by undercover video recorded by the Guardian and published online.
Chambers has pledged an ongoing commitment to diversity across the industry from Clarion Gaming and invited stakeholders who would like to contribute to contact her directly. In a statement, Chambers said:
Our campaign to encourage respectful representation of women began prior to the 2017 edition of ICE. While I think we have achieved some success adopting this strategy, moving forward we will be taking a greater degree of control over this important issue and updating our position in partnership with our stakeholders… We will be canvassing stakeholders through our Ampersand Think Tank and Research initiative that enables us to communicate directly with the industry. Following this process we will produce an Action Plan of deliverables for wider consultation and I would like members of the industry who would like to be part of that process to contact me directly. – Kate Chambers, managing director of Clarion Gaming.
Despite the words of Harrrison – and Clarion releasing a joint statement prior to the event committing to a mindful representation of gender at the conference – little seemed to have changed at the 2018 ICE Totally Gaming conference.
Not everyone has welcomed Chamber’s words however. Steve Donoughue, a management consultant specialising in the gambling industry, has penned an open letter arguing against Clarion’s approach and defending the industry from claims it is sexist.
This year’s event was hailed as a record breaker, with almost 600 exhibitors hosting stands. Attendance rose by around 4%, which makes seven consecutive years of attendance growth.