Iron Galaxy Studios: Giving Back

Published by
Iron Galaxy Studios
February 2, 2022
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When I think about why working at Iron Galaxy Studios fills me with such pride, there are many aspects that come to mind. The people who surround me are at the very top of my list. That shouldn’t be a surprise. The first of our company values is People (along with Continuous Improvement, Partners, and Capability).

One thing I have really come to admire in my years working here is that we have a culture where our commitment to People includes LISTENING to them. It’s very easy for a company to say that people are a focus, but taking the time to hear them, and to adjust the business when someone makes a compelling argument, is one of the many ways we work hard to realize our values.

With that genuine interest in listening, we asked the entire company to fill out an employee survey in 2019. Most of the questions were what one would expect on any survey like this, but we tailored it to try and get some specific answers to this question… How are we doing from your perspective?”

We came away from reviewing the results with new knowledge of a few areas we had not invested enough time, energy, money, or focus. A key area for improvement was Community. The word “community” is obviously very broad. It can mean different things to different people. Our team summarized it as a need to “give back more, and more often, to the communities we work in every day.” We have studios in several cities and hire a lot of talented people from those places. Game studios like ours benefit from a strong community and the support systems they provide.

The first thing we did to address this feedback was to establish a new paid Volunteer Day. Once a year, every employee can choose a worthy cause or charitable organization and donate their time to help. We don’t ask for documentation or any other “proof,” and we don’t require the time to be spent on specific types of activities. Before the pandemic surprised us all, we even planned on organizing team volunteer events where many people could show up together and help as a group. This is an idea we plan to bring back once it’s safe enough to do so.

Another action we took was to establish charity-matching for all employees. We kicked this new initiative off during the holiday season of 2021. Using a new internal resource that we deployed, our team was able to contribute to a selected food bank in each of our communities. This triggered an automatic matching contribution in the same amount from the company. We saw a lot of donations as a result, and we plan to continue selecting local organizations to support moving forward.

In addition to the Volunteer Days and the Charity Matching, we made a financial investment in the next generation of game developers. I’m personally quite proud of our grant endowments to DePaul University, in Chicago, and the University of Central Florida, in Orlando. The Iron Galaxy Diversity in Games Scholarships are focused on supporting students of game development from underrepresented backgrounds.

We believe that the best way to improve upon diversity in an industry that requires such unique skillsets is to start in the classrooms where those skills are learned. Our goal is to create opportunities for more students who want to become developers, whether they come to work for Iron Galaxy or go somewhere else. Teams and companies are stronger when they welcome opinions from many experiences. We hope to see this improve the way we work and even the games we make and play.

While I’m obviously excited about the steps we’ve taken to improve our contribution to the communities in which we work, I can’t help but think of how much more we can do. We’ve welcomed some new people to the team over the last year and have continued to listen to them. As a result, we’ve heard some great ideas for how we can better partner with local non-profit organizations, how we can work more closely with universities, and how we can keep doing more, because it’s the right thing to do.

That job will never be finished. Fortunately, it’s in our values to keep putting in the work.

Shekhar Dhupelia
Head of Studios
Iron Galaxy Studios

Photo credits: Chicago/Orlando