Women’s History Month Spotlight — Janice Lansing
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.
Today, we sat down with Janice Lansing, Vice President of Business Operations at Zynga in San Francisco. Read on below to hear more from Janice about how strong leaders — whether men or women — and organizations can help lift up women in their careers.
How can we change the narrative around gaming/tech being perceived as a male-dominated industry?
Gaming is a passion-driven industry. Women are critical to the development of games and have just as much fire and enthusiasm as men. We need to continue to make a concerted effort to hire, develop and retain diverse talent by designing and deploying strategies that are aligned with those objectives. I am really proud to work for a company that acknowledges this need, and is actively creating programs to do just that. Initiatives such as employee resource groups (ERGs), Women At Zynga ERG events and sponsorships, internship programs and mentorship opportunities are all integral to attracting and retaining diverse talent.
Why is it important to have women working on games in addition to appearing in them (i.e., avatars)?
Women make up a large part of our player base and represent a growing demographic, and thus should have their voices heard and incorporated in games. The industry needs to be adequately structured to serve this growing consumer segment. This means addressing culture from the talent, product and player perspectives. Amplifying diversity and diverse representation is crucial, not just of women of course, but all under-represented groups. Doing so allows us to produce highly innovative games and more compelling experiences for all. There has historically been a disparity between women playing games and women working in the industry, and I’m thrilled that Zynga is taking meaningful steps to close that gap.
What positive changes have you seen at Zynga, or within your career, that help promote equity?
Since I’ve been at Zynga, the company has always demonstrated advocacy for women, but in recent years, it has been making greater strides to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment. This can be seen in fair recruiting activities, hiring practices, outreach methodologies, compensation and benefits packages, career progression opportunities at all levels, networking, coaching and mentoring opportunities, and our learning and development curriculum. These all focus on cultivating an open, respectful and inclusive work environment where everyone can do their best work and be appropriately recognized and rewarded for it.
How do you see your role at Zynga helping to “break the bias” within our industry?
Bias is often unconscious, and so I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. Being part of a strong leadership team provides a role model for other women who aspire to achieve success in gaming and the broader tech industry. Thankfully, we are living in a time when there are many such examples, though we still have work to do. I also truly listen to the experiences of other women and really pay attention to what’s going on within our teams. Providing internal support and mentoring, championing female talent, promoting the right environment for them to thrive, and guiding them on their path to leadership roles are other ways I contribute to “breaking the bias.”
What actions are you taking? For example, can you tell us how you’re mentoring colleagues to promote inclusion?
One of the most satisfying parts of my role is the opportunity to develop talent and grow future leaders, many of whom are women. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some incredibly supportive mentors in my career that recognized my potential and empowered me to flourish — and I love paying that forward. Celebrating wins is another small way I like to make a difference. I see it as my personal responsibility to continuously help promote diversity at every level of the business and to uphold the inclusion framework established across the organization.
What is something someone else has done that you really saw make an impact, either at Zynga or another point in your career?
Having worked with gaming legends like Jade Raymond and Amy Hennig, I’ve been deeply inspired by strong female leaders in the industry — though I very much viewed them as leaders first, who happened to be women. Having women in positions of power not only demonstrates that women are just as capable as men, but also encourages more women to pursue careers in gaming and change the male-dominated narrative. I’ve witnessed the landscape of games and game development evolve over the last decade since I’ve been in the industry and am looking forward to its continued progress.
What are your favorite games?
Long before I ever worked at Zynga, Words With Friends was one of my favorite games, and still is. I started to have a new appreciation for it when I moved to the U.S. from Canada, as it was a great way to stay connected with my family and friends back home — and it’s just really fun. Even if I only have a couple of minutes, I’ll hop on to play a move and say hello.
What is your favorite book?
It would be too hard to choose a favorite but most recently, I really enjoyed reading “Untamed” by writer, activist and thought leader Glennon Doyle. It’s a warm, honest, funny memoir about the author unleashing her true self, which was an entertaining and motivating read.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I am slightly addicted to Barry’s Bootcamp, which is the one thing I really try to commit to doing for myself every day. I also enjoy cooking and being outdoors, taking advantage of the beauty that the Bay Area has to offer (hiking, golf, farmers markets, wine country, all that good stuff).