Date: 08.03.2023

by Maciej Akimow

Ewa Ulicz: You need to take care of the strategy so that the substantive potencial of women is not lost

One of the missions of Interplay is to promote women in the entertainment industry. Editors are not alone in this task because their activities in this respect are supported by IGT. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Interplay held a special interview with Ewa Ulicz, marketing director at IGT Poland and an informal ambassador of activities for women in the Polish entertainment industry. What has been done so far? Are systemic activities more important than grassroots initiatives?


Maciej Akimow: The ICE 2023 trade fair in London recently ended. One of the most important events in the lottery industry. Despite the undoubted success of this year’s event, it was impossible to avoid a continuation of the discussion initiated five years ago, when accusations of sexism were made against the organizers. The main point was that at a strictly business event, women are still largely represented as hostesses, which, according to some commentators, perpetuates a harmful stereotype of the entire industry. What do you think about it?

Ewa Ulicz: First of all, although I try to work on a daily basis for gender equality and the strengthening of the role of women in professional life, and I think it is good that this topic has been raised, but at the same time I am strongly opposed to doing it in a climate of sensationalism. Is our sector masculinized? Certainly, it is. But for example, the fact that a woman is head of the World Lottery Association, one of the most important organizations in our industry, certainly shows that we are moving in the right direction. Also, let’s use this situation with ICE as an excuse to talk about the role of women, but let’s not be provoked into taking extreme positions like: from now on no woman can be a hostess, let men take over this role. This is about equal opportunity, regardless of gender, but also about free choice.

So what do you think can be done to equal these opportunities?

Not so much you can as you need to – if the company wants to survive. First of all, make sure to have a good strategy so that the merit potential of women is not lost. Consider how to create friendly workplaces, show that you are focusing on equal opportunity policies. And the results will come by themselves. We have many examples in the industry that a good strategy works in this area. One of them is certainly Totalizator Sportowy and Ms. Magdalena Kopka-Wojciechowska, who is on the Board of Directors and is responsible for the company’s financial performance, which is growing year after year. Of course, there are more examples – such as the ladies we met through Interplay’s ‘Dama Karo’ (Lady Karo) podcast.

You mentioned Rebecca Hargrove, who chairs the World Lottery Association. Can the fact that it is a woman who heads the industry’s largest organization be reflected in changes in equal opportunity policies throughout the sector?

Certainly, it is not without significance. Rebecca is best known for her clear vision for the development of the lottery industry. She repeatedly emphasized that business goals must go hand in hand with the changes happening in our daily environment. And today’s world no longer wants a division between traditional roles. We should be defined by competences, not by gender. And Rebecca perfectly understands that. That’s why, among other things, she took care of the Women’s Initiative in Lottery Leadership (WILL) program, which was established in December 2016 to support the development of women in leadership positions in our industry. The program focuses on mentoring relationships that enable women to grow professionally and personally. Besides, she herself is a great role model for current and future female employees in our industry.

What can we do in Europe, in Poland?

It is worth to look at good practices from the U.S. But we, too – even though we obviously have a lot of work ahead of us – have nothing to be ashamed of. We certainly have good legislation, which provides a solid basis for changes. This year, for example, legislation based on the work-life balance directive is coming into force, which is designed to ensure a more equal distribution of responsibilities within relationships and to eliminate the wage gap. Certainly, by design, this is supposed to improve women’s chances in the labor market, and I personally believe it will.

As employers, we have an obligation to comply, but it will depend on our goodwill how this comes out in practice. And here I see a great opportunity for our industry. We are a quite small community that could work together to develop good practices in this area. This would not only have a positive business effect, but also an image effect.

As you mentioned legislation is just the basis, it will be up to the companies to decide what changes will follow. Then let’s talk about grassroots initiatives, not forced by regulations.

Perhaps readers will think we’ve made a deal, but the truth is that I primarily think of the projects launched by Interplay. The “Dama Karo” podcasts, presenting interesting stories of ladies in our industry, have been great. I would also very much like us to reactivate the past-pandemic community meetings of women in gaming. Exchange of knowledge, experience, and common support. Maybe these are just little steps, but these are extremely important. Besides, it is evolution, not revolution, that brings the most lasting results.

What would be your reaction if I said to you “Sunshine, make me a coffee”?

(Laughter) I would reply in all sympathy that I prefer you to address me by my first name, and I would be happy to go with you to the kitchen and show you how to operate the coffee machine if you can’t. But switching to a serious tone: I know you’re referring to the guide prepared by the Woman in Law Foundation, which we brand as IGT, right?

Yes, I’ve read it and I’m wondering if you’re getting such reactions from your readers: “let’s not exaggerate”; “it’s probably no longer possible to say anything at all”?

It’s all a matter of place, situation, relationship, and proper upbringing. There are certain limits that are not crossed. And it so happens that for women, these limits in the workplace are much more often crossed. I believe that most people, regardless of gender, understand that equal treatment (not better!) is obvious. And to those who don’t yet understand this, we need to reach out as soon as possible and show them that other – better relations in the workplace, are possible. And this is the role and responsibility of the employer and our entire industry.


Ewa Ulicz – Marketing Director at IGT Poland. A sociologist by education, she is a marketing, PR, and business development specialist by profession. By passion – activist of programs of concern for mental health, equality and diversity in companies. Coordinator of the Diversity Management Council of the Confederation of Lewiatan Employers. Initiator of numerous equality projects in gaming industry.