Company |Culture |Diversity | Date published: Jun 15, 2022
Inside Sony Interactive Entertainment: PRIDE@PlayStation
Pride month is a pivotal time of the year for LGBTQ+ people all over the world, but I’m proud to work at Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), where our inclusion and representation is important all year round. While Pride month is a key moment to raise awareness of the importance, contributions and challenges of the LGBTQ+ community, it is important to facilitate conversations, show support, and drive change every day of the year.
“Part of what makes PlayStation stand out as a global brand is the deep commitment we have to create a fun and welcoming environment for our fans to play,” says Eric Lempel (he/him), SVP, Global Marketing and Executive Sponsor of the PRIDE @PlayStation eNet. “The goal at PRIDE@PlayStation is to provide a forum for LGBTQ+ employees and their allies to exchange ideas for how SIE can strengthen its dedication to inclusivity in the workplace and beyond.”
“It’s important to us that SIE is a place where our LGBTQ+ colleagues are seen, heard, and valued for who they are. As Executive Lead of PRIDE@PlayStation, I’m proud to be a part of a team focused on the challenges that colleagues have faced in the past and how we can improve experiences moving forward.”
SIE has established a culture that is open to changes that positively impact the lives of our workforce and the broader community by welcoming and respecting all identities, and our PRIDE@PlayStation Employee Network (eNet) is crucial to driving these efforts internally. PRIDE@PlayStation is a community that allows employees to address and represent the full diversity of our workforce at SIE, and offer a platform to consult with senior leadership and various departments to support inclusion for all.
In the United States, we face a set of issues, but they’re not just limited to us, as my PRIDE@PlayStation colleagues in the United Kingdom or anywhere else in the world can attest to. When it comes to the overall spirit of PRIDE@PlayStation, Michael Geeleher (he/him), PRIDE@PlayStation Co-President for the UK and European region, puts it beautifully:
“Our overall presence is very much in the spirit of the pride parade,” he says. “It’s a celebration of self acceptance, achievements, and pride as much as it also serves as a demonstration for legal rights. It takes a lot of mental fortitude to get to the place where you can be proud of who you are. We want to celebrate that. We want to represent people who have gone on those journeys. Our eNets can be a lot of fun, and that’s fantastic. You also have people who are very passionate about changing and improving not just our workplace, but the wider industry and communities around the world. Culture-wise, you’ve got a group of people and allies within PRIDE@PlayStation who want to celebrate, show up for each other and also make a difference. I think that’s really special.”
PRIDE@PlayStation and its Mission
SIE is committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone and is a proud supporter of the Human Rights Campaign Business Statement on Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation. The mission of PRIDE@PlayStation started with developing an inclusive, safe space for LGBTQ+ employees as a whole. When looking at the inequalities leveled at LGBTQ+ people in the world, how do we create a space at work where people feel comfortable to express who they are? The efforts to allow people to truly be themselves and support them throughout different stages of their lives have evolved in many ways over time.
One recent example on how we’re providing support to employees is that we have launched a support group in partnership with TransFamily Support Services for parents of transgender and non-binary children; this felt important and necessary given the recent environment in the United States. We also have an internal group called Rainbow Parents focused on providing advice and support to parents of LGBTQ+ kids. I came into PRIDE@PlayStation expecting just a few employee engagement initiatives, but it has grown into support that extends beyond the workplace and touches those aspects of our daily lives that are also impacted such as family health care and education.
PlayStation is recognized as a fun, inclusive, and joyful brand and that is how our culture at SIE is set up. One of our ambitions is to also bring that joy and fun to our eNet events; one example of that is when we brought in two queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race for an event. We hosted an event with them that was entertaining and aimed to engage with our employees. Having the opportunity to meet them brought some to tears and being able to carve out that time to allow employees to disconnect from their regular jobs was wonderful. Moments like this are just a small example of the connectivity that we have with each other. Our eNet extends so far across the company – different departments, regions, cultures – and it’s serendipitous when I’m working on something and realize there’s someone from PRIDE@PlayStation elsewhere in the company whom I can reach out to.
Company and Community Impact
SIE, as part of the Sony Group, has a corporate culture that respects human rights and is inclusive to LGBTQ+ staff, working to empower us and support communities around the world. These things are especially important as LGBTQ+ people are isolated in ways that aren’t always spotlighted or even known.
In both the United States and the United Kingdom, we assembled a group of our trans and non-binary employees and asked what more we can do to support them. These conversations led to learning more about things like how a lack of transgender awareness and medical proficiency (commonly called the “gap”) impacts healthcare and we decided these concerns are something we should put our attention toward. One way PRIDE@PlayStation helped was assisting with updating employee benefits for our trans employee workforce. This effort now means that they were able to get consultations for things like facial feminization surgery, which they’d never imagined they’d be able to have as part of their healthcare, let alone afford it. It gave me goosebumps to think about how the work we’re doing as an eNet is affecting the livelihood of employees at SIE.
“What we’re doing is taking voices who may not necessarily have a seat at the table and bringing them up via our channels at PRIDE@PlayStation,” Geeleher says. “In any of these initiatives that we’ve done, whether that’s working with human resources, or other departments, we’ve been welcomed with open arms. Most changes have happened quickly. As an LGBTQ+ group, there are issues and potential improvements that are on our radar that are not necessarily on theirs. As soon as we raise attention to them, though, we’re immediately met with ‘What can we do to help?’ or ‘How can we get it over the line?’ and we’ve seen major success just based on that approach.”
“I can look back over the years and see there have been tons of examples of SIE working to get to a better place,” Geeleher continues. “Whether it’s teaming with marketing to review inclusive language guidelines for external announcements when discussing LGBTQ+ people or working on internal teams to move the dial on inclusivity. That’s what groups like PRIDE@PlayStation exist to do and I feel like we’ve seen loads of impact in that space.”
An example of the external initiatives we engage with is our partnerships with various organizations working to benefit LGBTQ+ youth. This includes for example Trans Family Support Services in the United States, an organization that operates hubs to provide health and wellness services, parenting groups, education, and a whole lot more to local communities. In addition to that, we are also working with Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco, California and a similar equivalent in the United Kingdom called akt; they’re both organizations dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ youth, a demographic that is disproportionately impacted by homelessness. We’re always thrilled to partner with such organizations on efforts that strengthen our community and create a more inclusive world for everyone.
This year, SIE and PRIDE@PlayStation continue to show support of the LGBTQ+ communities around the world by partnering again with some of the most joyful and colorful parades – keep an eye out for our SIE employees in Tokyo, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.
If you want to celebrate with us from afar, you can check out our curated game list on PlayStation Store, which accumulates over 50+ of the best video game titles on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, that shine a light on LGBTQ+ characters, themes, and experiences.
We have also created a Pride themed Playlist that provides some good vibes to celebrate this month and beyond, and hopefully adds a lot of joy to your gaming experience. Enjoy the tunes here!
And for everyone who wants to ‘be loud and be proud’ by showing their Pride support this year, we also launched an exclusive Pride T-Shirt on PlayStation Gear Store.
Going forward, Michael, myself, and I’m sure many others in PRIDE@PlayStation hope to see more overtly open LGBTQ+ characters in games. While there have been some great steps toward more representation for women, LGBTQ+ characters and other underrepresented groups, we hope that the industry will accelerate its efforts.
“Millions of people play video games on a daily basis and, consequently, we have hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ people or parents of LGBTQ+ children who play,” Geeleher says. “Together with the wider entertainment industry, we have a responsibility to represent and reflect our diverse world as it is in real life. At SIE, PRIDE@PlayStation helps to facilitate conversations, provide food for thought and inspire the next generation. We’re bringing our lived experience to work to hopefully connect with other teams to make sure that what we’re outputting — not just in games but through our services, websites, and beyond — includes LGBTQ+ people and other underrepresented groups in front of and behind the scenes.”
SIE is committed to creating a world where everyone belongs, fueled by our company culture, our products, and our incredible PlayStation community around the world. If you are interested in a career at Sony Interactive Entertainment, please take a moment to look at our opportunities at PlayStation Careers.