Steve Birch, the CEO of Sky Betting & Gaming, said the company is targeting its recruitment drive so it can represent all communities around its base in Leeds.
He made the comments at an event to celebrate the opening of the company’s new office in Wellington Place, Leeds. The event was hosted by Gabby Logan, the former international gymnast and broadcaster, and included a panel event with sports stars Jason Robinson, Danny Mills and Hannah Cockcroft.
Mr Birch told the audience of leading business figures: “Two things which are vitally important to what we do at Sky Betting & Gaming and Flutter are our people, and the communities in which they live and work.
“Sky Betting & Gaming has always been a people-focused business, and our colleagues have done a great job of running the business from home over the last 18 months.
“However, from the day we decided to close the offices in early March 2020, the impact on colleagues has been at the forefront of our minds, and we have seen many challenges to both wellbeing and ways of working.
“Among the other things valued by our colleagues here in Leeds are the opportunities Sky Betting & Gaming offers them to learn and develop, and to give back."
He added: “Attracting the right people to our business and helping them develop their skills is a huge priority for us and has been central to our growth story.
“We also want to better represent the communities we work in and address some of the inequities that affect employment in local communities, so we developed our own self-funded version of the Government ‘Kickstart’ scheme which has created 13 new roles for young people at risk of long-term unemployment.
“We specifically recruited from some of the more deprived areas of Leeds where young people traditionally might not have had an opportunity to work for us.
“Having recently faced a Q&A from them all I have to say is that the variety of backgrounds and thirst to learn are going to create some formidable future employees.”
Conor Grant, CEO of Flutter UK and Ireland, said the move to the new building demonstrated the company’s commitment to Leeds.
He added: “With 1,700 of our Flutter colleagues in Leeds - where we are recruiting over 100 roles - we have a continuing and unwavering commitment to this city and the surrounding region, building on the long-standing presence and contribution of Sky Betting & Gaming.
“Our aim with the refurbishment of the building was to provide a new Yorkshire hub for both Sky Betting & Gaming staff and the global Flutter family, providing a truly great place to work, which is built around the needs and aspirations of our people. The office is central to how we want to encourage our people to work flexibly.
“Leeds has been a real cradle of growth for Sky Betting & Gaming since moving across from Harrogate in 2010. It has proven to be the perfect place in which to grow a technology business such as ours.”
Leeds could equal, if not better, Manchester as a digital economy, according to Mr Grant.
He said that collectively the business community needed to shout more about Leeds as a major digital hub.
He added: “There are thousands of brilliant, creative people in the region. It’s a real point of pride that lots of those people have passed through our doors, thrived and had successful careers – and indeed even built their own flourishing businesses also now based in the city.”