Show Notes from Knup Sports Show

Show #91 – Kelly Kehn Talks About iGaming Inclusion Through Her All-In Diversity Project

On today’s show, Kelly Kehn, the co-founder of the All-In Diversity Project joins us to talk a bit about their mission. She talks about her background starting the project and leads into some future plans for the organization. Kelly also shares some subtle “nuggets for success” if you are looking to start a project in the iGaming (or any) space.

On today’s show, Kelly Kehn, the co-founder of the All-In Diversity Project joins us to talk a bit about their mission. She talks about her background starting the project and leads into some future plans for the organization. Kelly also shares some subtle “nuggets for success” if you are looking to start a project in the iGaming (or any) space.

Video from Kelly Kehn Interview


Show notes from Kelly Kehn Interview

Ryan Knuppel: All right. Welcome back to another episode of the Knup Sports Show. I’m your host Ryan Knuppel here with you each and every time. Thank you so much for taking a little time out of your day to tune in, listen and watch. We’re on video today as well. But today I’m joined by a special guest. I have Kelly Kehn. Kelly’s the co-founder of the All-In Diversity Project. Also works with SBC in the gaming industry. Kelly, thank you for joining me.

Kelly Kehn: Thanks Ryan. Glad to be here.

Ryan Knuppel: Absolute pleasure to have you, I’ve seen your name everywhere lately. Part of conferences, leading conferences, part of different networking events and social events. So it’s quite an honor to have you on here and hear a little bit about your story and I guess your background in iGaming, me so thanks once again.

Kelly Kehn: Thank you. Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

Ryan Knuppel: Awesome. And so tell us a little bit about first of all, what is the All-In Diversity Project? Give us the high level of what that is and what your involvement in it is?

Kelly Kehn: Yeah, sure. All-In Diversity Project is a fairly new organization within the gaming space. It’s about three and a half years old now, we founded it in 2017. It’s an industry led non-for-profit that exists to offer tools to businesses who want to be more diverse and inclusive. So basically what’s that mean is, it’s funded and led by operators, suppliers, and companies within the betting and gaming space globally. We exist to create and offer information and tools back to those businesses who want to be better. And the idea being that until we can have the tools, until we can have data, until we can put real strategy behind social concepts like D&I, we’ll never make it important enough. We’ll never make it a strategic decision within organizations and therefore it will never change. So that’s our hope.

Ryan Knuppel: That’s pretty cool. That sounds like a great mission. I’m curious what led you to, so you’re the co-founder, obviously started this, I’m curious where that started. Have you been in iGaming for a while and had this, but where did this begin and the passion for this start?

Kelly Kehn: Like I said, it started in 2017, and early in 2017, I was at a women in gaming networking event, just before ICE so I think it was in January, in London. And I met … there’s certain people that you know in this industry, sometimes because you’re in the same room with them often and not for any other reason. So my co-founder, Tina was at this particular event and we had started to chat about women in the space and how there was starting to be a bit of talk about how there wasn’t enough women and at events like those, the conversation was always, “well, we’re the only ones” or “there’s never enough.” And that’s always where it ended. And Tina and I talked for a long time about, “well, how do we stop talking and start doing? And what do we do?”

Kelly Kehn: And there was talk about recruitment and there was talk about sort of training and all these sort of things. And where we ended up was that we care about the industry as a whole, and want to see the industry as a whole progress forward. And I mean that globally. And we also believe that D&I, once this industry gets a hold of what that concept is, what diversity and inclusion is, it doesn’t matter if you’re female, it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, straight, gay, whatever that is, that concept applies across the board. And we’re an industry that’s heavily regulated. So it’s hard enough with the stigma, so it’s hard enough to get anyone, let alone people … we want to get the best talent but the unique thing about our industry is that because of that, we invest a lot in our people that we have.

Kelly Kehn: So it really behooves us to have a culture that’s inclusive, because we need to keep those people. We’ve worked really hard, we’ve spend a lot of money to get them and we want to keep them. So that’s where we ended up. And we said, “okay, well, the way that we’re going to progress an entire industry globally, is to change the conversation. And the conversation has to go from, there’s not enough or whining about what the problem is or pinpointing the problem or naming and shaming, to what tools do you need to be better? To make it a commercial discussion.” And for us, where we landed, there’s lots of tools, obviously and I could talk for four hours about the tools, but the main tool that we offer and that we landed on, was data.

Kelly Kehn: If you don’t understand where you are, if you don’t understand where you want to be, and if you can’t benchmark it, you can never take that topic to the board. You can never make it a priority within a company’s organization, because they can’t understand what they’re putting money towards. So that’s where we are. The first year, we worked really hard fundraising, as I’ve said, there’s industry organizations that fund us and lead. And we also built out a data collection tool. We worked with Oxford University in the UK. We also worked with UNLV to build out that data collection, what that framework should be so that companies around the world can pick it up, can participate. We privately benchmark for any company who wants to participate with us. So they take the survey, we give them a score, we take that data. Then we publicly summarize it and anonymize it and put it out for anyone who wants to pick it up. And that is our hope, that any company that uses that will have a key tool in order to progress.

Ryan Knuppel: Sure. That that’s so amazing. And there’s so much that you just said there that’s going through my mind, but the one thing early on that sticks out that you said, and this is getting a little off topic, but for people listening, I think this is an important key, you said “we had to stop talking and start doing.” And I think that’s just a business or an entrepreneur or a mindset, that if you really want to own a business or just do something, you want to make change. If you want to do something, we can all talk about it. And trust me, I am so guilty of this as well. But once you kind of like, if there’s something you really want and you just stop just “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, what we should do, we should do, we should do,” and you take action and say, “we’re going to do, we’re going to do whatever that means.”

Ryan Knuppel: And I commend you because it’s not an easy step to take. I think 90% of the people fall in that, just going to talk forever and it all sounds good, but we’re not going to take action. So I commend you guys for taking action on this, and it’s something important to you and something that you saw the vision clearly, and just taking action’s that hardest step. So that was a great point. I just want everybody to understand that that’s sometimes the hardest part.

Kelly Kehn: Yeah, it is and it sounds so simple but it took us a year. It took us a year of knocking on doors and finding the right message and arguing with one another and all those sorts of things. I also … it is clear and you should get shit done as they say, but it takes a long time and it takes a lot of heartbreak and it takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears and I want to make sure you emphasize that too, because yeah, I look back at it and I wonder how we actually got through it, but we have an advisory board of some amazing people. Sue Schneider’s on it. Jan Jones Blackhurst is on it. We’ve got Holly Cook MacCarro who’s on it, Susan Hensel, who’s a Pennsylvania gaming regulator. And then we’ve got a lot of European leaders in this space too, who truly do believe in it and helped guide it.

Kelly Kehn: And the companies that we have, we call them our Founding Members, do believe in making this happen and funny enough, do believe in collaboration when it comes to D&I and believe in sharing and making sure that everyone has the information that we’re sort of generating and coming up with.

Ryan Knuppel: Sure, sure. I mean, we realize, yeah, definitely realize it’s a hard road, but I think at the end of the day, you can point back and look back at that and feel good that you’re making a change and you truly are seeing change as things go. So props for that and just talking to the audience now and everybody listening, it’s a great example of follow your dreams a little bit, it sounds so cliched but it’s true. And you can’t really be reminded enough. I’m similar in business where I’ve sat on some things, even this podcast, for example, I sat on it forever and didn’t really do much. And now all of a sudden it’s like, “okay, I’m just going to do it and just go, and it’s led to some great things, it’s led to this today. It’s just, it’s great. So it’s awesome.”

Kelly Kehn: It gets me up in the morning, so …

Ryan Knuppel: Yeah. It gives you something to go for. So let’s shift gears just a real quickly. I’m curious your involvement. So you’re also the Global Relationship Director at SPC, so tell me a little bit about how that came about, how long you’ve been working with them. We’ve done a lot of SPC shows, so we don’t need to necessarily go deep, but I’m curious your involvement and what you’re doing.

Kelly Kehn: So for me, I know them quite well as you say as well, they’ve been in Europe for a long time. I’ve been here since 2008, and I’d been going to their events. And in fact, when, when we launched All-In Diversity Project, we were doing a lot of speaking, we would literally talk to anyone who wanted to listen to us, but they gave us a really good platform and have always supported us from the start. So when the opportunity came available, I really see it as very synergistic, so I want to make sure that events companies like SPC, I want to make sure that my role as SPC is as inclusive and making sure that we’re talking about topics that are relevant to all aspects of the industry, not just … it was a networking group. SPC started as a networking group back in the day. So it was sports guys that were getting together and it grew from there, but now the industry is so much more diverse and there are so many more things that are becoming strategic topics of discussion, like human resources, like integrity, like all of these things we’re saying.

Kelly Kehn: And so I see that as a very synergistic thing where we’re talking about including all aspects and building relationships and then vice versa. I think that that topic of diversity inclusion needs to be part of everyone’s business and talking about. So it’s great. And I’ve been around for a long time, longer than I care to think about. And I’ve worked in the US, I’ve worked in Canada and I’ve worked in Europe. So for me, it was really natural and that this industry is quite small and it’s quite global. So when you hang around a while you start to just have friends, I guess, in the industry.

Ryan Knuppel: Well, that’s very cool. You can kind of include your All-In Diversity Project mission and goals with the role you’re serving at SBC and really kill two birds with one stone with that. I mean, that’s amazing. And then also helping these events become more well rounded and diverse, I think you’re right. Spot on with that. And that’s cool. That’s amazing. So awesome.

Kelly Kehn: And I think SPC really does see themselves, we do see ourselves as part of the industry and wanting to be a piece of that industry. So including everyone and the roles and all that sort of thing, and making sure there is something for everyone is important.

Ryan Knuppel: So you’ve had a lot of challenges to get where you are today. It’s been an uphill battle, but tell us a little bit more about the further uphill that you need to go. What else, where are you going? What, I guess, goals or challenges do you guys have on the horizon at All-In?

Kelly Kehn: Yeah. So I want to talk about sports a little bit because that’s why we’re here. Sports is one of those, when we first launched the … we call it the All-Index, so that’s our data collection tool, our workforce survey. When we first launched the All-Index, we found out very quickly that there’s a sector of the industry that probably has the steepest hill to climb if you will. And that’s sports; that’s sports betting. It’s just the nature of the beast. But in reality, sports and sports betting also have the most tools in their arsenal if you will. Sports is year round or used to be, it will be again. It’s at night, it’s on the weekends. Everyone understands sports. And it appeals to people who may have a career in data, data analysis or risk management, financial tradings.

Kelly Kehn: So there’s people who can come from all aspects of the world, into sports trading and understand it. So a secondary initiative that we launched off the back of the All-Index was this idea of a sports trading apprenticeship program. To bring in new people into the industry, to introduce it as a really great career in markets, and start that training. Because we do feel it is, it is a great career. There are companies, as I said earlier, very willing to support people in their careers. You don’t necessarily need a college education and it’s fun and it’s flexible. It’s good for students, people have parents to care for, people who need the flexibility to kids, all that sort of thing. It can be remote now, that we’re finding.

Kelly Kehn: So the idea of a sports trading apprenticeship program was sort of born and we’re at very early stages of that. We’ve got the framework for it, and we’ve got the idea of how you include new people. The training is as to how you include new people into your teams. And this is now just about what’s the best market to go into? What are the best companies that are going to support this whole heartedly and get proof of concept and roll it out that way?

Ryan Knuppel: Very cool. Very cool. So speak to that a little bit about what type of companies you’re looking for and maybe some companies that are listening, how they’d get involved, I guess as well with this.

Kelly Kehn: Yeah, of course. Look, I think it’s open to … I realize in Europe and the US, it is slightly different. In Europe, it’s about sort of unwinding years and years of internal practice that that may or may not have been good, but to make sure that your existing teams are starting to change their mindset and to add in the new people. In the US you just need talent and that could be an operator, and that could be the supplier, could be a combination of both. There’s just a severe lack of talent. So in the US, our approach is a bit different. It’s working with local governments or local organizations within the government who are supporting sports betting as an industry and also the bigger companies that are already established. So it could be an operator, supplier, just anyone who wants to just get access to more talent.

Kelly Kehn: The way it works is, we work directly with that operator, supplier, that company, to establish what they want in what market. All-In always sits in the middle, because if I can be blunt, for a casino, sometimes casinos have already a reputation with customers and people don’t consider it as a job. But if All-In sits in the middle, we talk about it as a career. All the companies that are supporting this or that would support it, and in fact, I would guess most casinos that are adopting sports betting, really do value their people. As I said earlier, you have to, it’s too expensive not to. But with All-In in between there, is to talk about what a career it is. Because it’s a lot different to what you see on a commercial or what you see sort of on a billboard driving down the highway, to what you see when you get into those back offices.

Kelly Kehn: It’s a totally different situation, what they pay and how they’re developing and how they’re supporting their people is totally different than you might consider as a career. So that’s the way it works, is we identify what those markets are. We do a bit of e-learning with those particular people who want the training. So when we go out and find the people, do the training to the e-learning, so they have a foundation as to what sports betting is. Then we do a bit of a foundation with the company itself about inclusive practice within a company, inclusive practice and policy. And then we bring those people in and they do the normal three month onboarding or whatever that particular company does on that trading team. And then after that there’s zero risk to the company. If they fit, they fit, they can have them and they’re employees, if not, we sit in the middle to put them back into the ecosystem to find the right fit for them, because we don’t want to lose those types of people that have training already, that get a foundation, because it is hard to find.

Kelly Kehn: So and like I said, in Europe, it’s slightly different in that they need talent, but they need to kind of more unwind and it’s a slower process. There’s not a vast lack of talent.

Ryan Knuppel: Wow. That’s a lot, there’s a lot that goes into this. I mean, just for [inaudible 00:16:51] my head’s spinning a little bit so tell the people how they can be a part of this. If they want to learn more, if they want to be a part of any of this that you’re doing, do they just contact you? Is there a way to be a part of this or learn more at least?

Kelly Kehn: Yeah. There’s well, there’s, on, there’s two of us who are full time. So myself and Tina, you can find us on LinkedIn very easily. We’ve got a Twitter, but I’m not very good at Twitter so I don’t want to promote it.

Ryan Knuppel: Welcome to the club.

Kelly Kehn: Yeah, and honestly we’re about, so, you know, I think this is probably the easiest way to get in touch with us or call you. You know how to find me.

Ryan Knuppel: Amazing. Absolutely. I do. Yeah I’ll second that. All those links we’ll put up in the show notes so you guys don’t have to remember them and try to write them down. They’ll be in the notes that linked up and give them to you. But yeah, feel free to reach out. I know Kelly’s very open and engaged on LinkedIn and things like that. So reach out to Kelly, reach out to myself, I don’t know a lot about the project, but I’m happy to connect you with Kelly and go from there because one of the good people in the industry. So I definitely, I have enjoyed this conversation could probably talk all day, but sake of time, we won’t do that. So what else? One last, any last words, anything you want to, just that you hadn’t said that you want to say here before we get off the line?

Kelly Kehn: Yeah, definitely. I mean, anyone who’s starting a business or who’s just getting into sports betting, who is interested in the industry, if you are thinking about starting and want to start with the idea of D&I and you need some sort of a jump start or a foundation for that, we offer that for free, for anyone who wants to [inaudible 00:18:31] best practices, we can put you in touch with people. So just get in touch, happy to help with your hiring or your people as you go.

Ryan Knuppel: Amazing. This is Kelly Kehn, co-founder of the All-In Diversity Project, Global Relationship Director at SBC. Kelly, I definitely appreciate your time, and if you ever need anything from my end, don’t hesitate to reach out. Appreciate you being here and being a part of the show.

Kelly Kehn: All right. Thank you.

Ryan Knuppel: All right, Kelly. Have a great day.

Kelly Kehn: Cheers.Bye.

Ryan Knuppel: Cheers.


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