“We’re really pushing ourselves to be better, to think smarter, to be more inclusive, to be more diverse.”

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives are increasingly being prioritized by ESL FACEIT Group (EFG). Claudia Beaton, the vice president of people and culture at EFG, sat down with esports.gg for an interview about how the #GGFORALL program embraces DE&I initiatives while transforming the status quo.

#GGFORALL graphic (Image via ESL Gaming)
#GGFORALL graphic (Image via ESL Gaming)

A growing industry with potential and opportunities

Beaton's esports journey began when her two older brothers introduced her to the world of gaming. Despite getting pushed out of the room as the younger sister, she followed her interest in titles like Fortnite and CS:GO.

Her passion for gaming reignited while working in the entertainment industry, particularly during her time at Live Nation. She noticed the significant growth of events for video games and saw how ESL Gaming produced festivals like DreamHack. Beaton saw the gaming industry's potential and began to pursue opportunities within that space.

DreamHack, #GGFORALL program, and CS:GO

When Beaton joined EFG, one of the initiatives she worked with a team on was #GGFORALL. The program led to the ESL Impact League as a women's circuit for CS:GO. This league featured a $500,000 prize pool across regional leagues, ESL Cash Cups, and DreamHack tournaments. Now, the ESL Impact League is in its fourth season.

Beaton told esports.gg about the key pillars of #GGFORALL as well. These include anti-toxicity and fair play, universal participation, mental health and well-being, plus environmental impact and sustainability.

Under the pillar of universal participation, the ESL Impact League helped remove barriers for women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and non-binary players within the CS:GO community.

ESL Impact 2023 information (Image via ESL Gaming)
ESL Impact 2023 information (Image via ESL Gaming)

"So under Counter Strike, which is one of our most successful tournaments, we have the IEM tournaments that are Counter Strike-based. We figured that this had the largest audience," Beaton said, referring to the Intel Extreme Masters events. "So [we tapped] into that diverse audience and produced a tournament for women only."

Additionally, Beaton detailed how EFG wants to keep making gaming events more accessible. Services such as American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters are a part of this. To Beaton, this ensures that everyone in the audience can fully engage in the excitement of esports.

The impact of #GGFORALL's initiatives

Beaton then discussed the opportunities, rather than challenges, that the esports industry presents in terms of fairness and inclusivity for players. She emphasized the #GGFORALL program's role in providing safe spaces and communities for marginalized groups.

Additionally, the ability to lead and create positive change means continuous growth, innovation, and a disruption of the status quo. Claudia said that the rapid technological advancement and growth in the esports industry during the COVID-19 lockdown paralleled the accelerated development of #GGFORALL's initiatives.

"We're really pushing ourselves to be better, to think smarter, to be more inclusive, to be more diverse," Beaton told esports.gg. "And what does that mean in the esports landscape? — That's how we're challenging ourselves."

Snapdragon Pro Series and mobile esports

Beaton also revealed the long-term plan for #GGFORALL, which extends all the way to 2030. For example, the Snapdragon mobile initiative is slated to kick off next year and continue through 2025 with anti-toxicity and fair play plus universal participation as the pillars of focus. Beaton then mentioned FACEIT Group's use of Minerva, which is an artificial intelligence (AI) program that curbs toxicity.

"So getting accustomed to and understanding Minerva and the ability to really catch those toxic moments online and be able to have a positive impact on stopping bullying or [the] harassment of players when they're in tournaments online and on mobile — the work has started," Beaton said. "We're looking at that on the roadmap for next year to really start to bring in those DE&I objectives into mobile and Snapdragon."

Snapdragon Pro Series for Call of Duty: Mobile screenshot (Image via ESL Gaming)
Snapdragon Pro Series for Call of Duty: Mobile screenshot (Image via ESL Gaming)

That's all for now. Stay tuned on esports.gg for more interviews, news, and updates!