Womenize! – Inspiring Stories is our weekly series featuring inspirational women from games and tech. For this edition we talked to Julia Hiltscher, Founding Board Member at Esports Research Network. She speaks about valuable lessons from esports and traditional sports, her vision for inclusivity and sustainability and how she’s actively shaping a brighter future. Read more about Julia in this interview:
Hi Julia! You’ve had a truly remarkable journey, from coding games at the age of 6 to pro gaming to becoming a pioneer in CSR (Corporate Social Respon-sibility) in the esports industry. Are there any crossovers or valuable lessons you’ve taken from your gaming experiences into your CSR work?

Valuable lessons from my experiences in both esports and traditional sports, such as discipline, self-care, teamwork, and the drive for excellence, have significantly influenced my work in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). These lessons have empowered me to consistently enhance inclusivity in esports, as seen through initiatives like the Iron Lady Series and GGFORALL.

Your dedication to inclusivity, diversity, and sustainability in the esports industry is evident throughout your career. Could you share some specific moments or initiatives that have been particularly fulfilling or transformative in your quest to make esports more inclusive and responsible?

Throughout my career, I’ve remained dedicated to promoting inclusivity, diversity, and sustainability in the esports industry. Some notable milestones include the establishment of initiatives like ESL Impact, an esports league for women, and my active involvement in the Equal Esports Initiative, providing scholarships for women and non-binary players. These endeavors directly address issues like toxicity and the lack of representation of women and non-binary individuals in certain esports spaces such as Counter-Stike.

Additionally, I take pride in my work tracking emissions and creating a comprehensive plan for ESL Faceit Group’s emissions reduction, aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030. I’m currently authoring a climate-focused book for the gaming industry, collaborating on EU-funded climate projects, and teaching esports and sustainability at esteemed universities, such as Fresenius and the University of Uppsala.

These experiences, particularly teaching and learning from emerging talents, are immensely fulfilling. I also offer management consulting services to businesses seeking to transition towards comprehensive sustainability across all aspects of their operations

In your role as a lecturer, what are the key messages or lessons you aim to impart to students and how do you see the younger generation of esports professionals contributing to a more responsible and sustainable industry in the future?

As a lecturer, I endeavor to convey essential messages about integrity, inclusivity, and sustainability in esports to my students. I emphasize that success in the industry transcends winning games; it revolves around promoting ethical values, embracing diversity, and championing CSR.

I firmly believe that the younger generation of esports professionals holds the power to lead the industry towards greater responsibility and sustainability. I stress the importance of speaking positively about tangible actions and maintaining a healthy work-life balance to facilitate change. Many companies today only claim to offer a nurturing environment for teamwork, learning, and development, some companies engage in greenwashing. I advocate for a shift towards an economy that prioritizes people and the planet over profit and shareholders. If a company doesn’t align with this vision, I encourage my students to consider it a red flag and seek opportunities in organizations committed to sustainability or even embark on their journey to establish sustainable ventures.

The future belongs to those who are bold, creative, purpose-driven, and value-oriented, and together, we can boldly shape a sustainable future by believing in our mission.

Thanks for this interview, Julia!

Julia’s links: LinkedIn

Womenize! – Inspiring Stories Feature by Madeleine Egger