Breaking The Bias — Claudia Sanchez Wilson
For Women’s History Month in March, Zynga is celebrating female employees who are helping forge a more gender-equal world. In keeping with the theme for International Women’s Day, “Will You Help #BreakTheBias,” the women — from diverse positions around the world — are sharing ways in which they’re combating bias, stereotypes and discrimination in gaming.
For our first profile, we sat down with Claudia Sanchez Wilson, Vice President, Legal at Zynga in the San Francisco Bay Area. Throughout her career, she has been positively impacted by her mentors and other female leaders and believes that being our best selves and supporting other women in the workplace are ways in which we can help break the bias.
How can we change the narrative around gaming/tech being perceived as a male-dominated industry?
We change the narrative by being the change; by claiming our space and sharing our voice every day — in this industry, in our company, on our teams and in our roles. When we do meaningful work, make valuable contributions and do our best to show up as who we are, we are changing the narrative voice by voice.
Why is it important to have women working on games in addition to appearing in them (i.e., avatars)?
I believe we are only as good as the company we keep. And if we don’t do the work of creating teams that are diverse and varied in experience and viewpoints, and giving those experiences and viewpoints credibility and respect, then we’re going to fall short of building or creating the best game (or product) we have to offer.
What positive changes have you seen at Zynga, or within your career, that help promote equity?
I’ve been at Zynga for four years, and the contributions of different employee resource groups (ERGs) have been increasingly impressive. The Women at Zynga (WAZ) ERG programming has been effective at providing representation, resources and promoting opportunities to further the goals of equity and inclusion. I have also seen the formation and growth of additional ERGs — like AmigoZ, Black Zynga Union (BZU) and others — which work towards similar goals.
How do you see your role at Zynga helping to “break the bias” within our industry?
I work as a litigator, a legal specialty that for some is synonymous with aggressive and adversarial exchanges. This assumption can occasionally highlight a bias against female lawyers, or those of color. I hope that on my best days, my work with our outside lawyers and our own internal Zynga clients demonstrates that women lawyers, lawyers of color and excellence in litigation go hand in hand.
What actions are you taking? For example, can you tell us how you’re mentoring colleagues to promote inclusion?
I’ve been paired with some wonderful colleagues through the WAZ mentoring program, and I have created some long-standing mentoring relationships that continue to this day. Our legal team is also wonderfully diverse, and it has been amazing to act as a sounding board and to provide unofficial mentoring to my day-to-day colleagues – as they do the same for me.
What is something someone else has done that you really saw make an impact, either at Zynga or another point in your career?
Throughout my career, I’ve been truly fortunate to be exposed to three different incredible leaders who have made a big impact on me. These include a federal district judge who is one of my greatest mentors, a former law firm partner and our very own Phuong Phillips. I’ve found these amazing leaders share a few things in common: they invest more in their jobs than just their work – meaning they really ‘see’ the people around them and connect with them as individuals; they are generous with their time; unafraid to share their viewpoint even when it goes against the grain; and they promote others’ accomplishments (and opportunities) with the same zeal as they do their own. These kinds of traits make waves — the kind that can change companies and alter individual trajectories.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I like to spend time with my kids, cook and read – with To Kill a Mockingbird being my favorite book.