Blizzard plans to launch a “global diversity and inclusion initiative” to increase the amount of women and people from underrepresented ethnic minorities in its workforce. The plans for the program were revealed after an internal memo by Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime was leaked.
A lack of diversity remains a significant problem within the games industry and Blizzard becomes one of the biggest names in the industry to address the issue.
21% of Blizzard Employees Are Women
In the memo, obtained by Kotaku, Morhaime explained that 21% of Blizzard’s workforce is female but women “leave our organization at a higher rate than men.” Meanwhile, underrepresented minority ethnic groups represent just 14% of Blizzard employees.
Although the company will first work to employ more women, later this year the company will roll out plans to hire more people from ethnic minority backgrounds too. Blizzard’s hiring initiative will not include “quotas,” says Morhaime, but current employees will be encouraged to refer women for open positions. Blizzard itself will also look at women’s groups, universities and will partner with organizations like Girls Who Code.
Other plans include making of a council of women, similar to the company’s existing LGBTQ council which advises Blizzard and holds regular meetings. Additionally there are plans to “enhance inclusiveness for those who identify as women,” improve bias training, host “networking sessions and mentoring groups for women across the company,” and put on an annual “Women @ Blizzard” summit too.
With the release of its multiplayer shooter Overwatch, last year, the company has made headlines for being so inclusive and for stressing the importance of diversity in video games. However, it hasn’t always gotten it right as Blizzard has been met with cultural appropriation criticisms over some of the skins included in the game and there was also the controversial Tracer pose that was changed following community backlash.
Having a more diverse staff would go a long way towards not just avoiding things like this but in making a game that is respectful and works for a diverse playerbase. Blizzard would be better able to address players’ concerns and needs, such as the recent announcement that Overwatch would be improving its reporting system. Being inclusive is also a significant step in this as diversity means very little if these new hires do not feel welcomed or their ideas and suggestions are not valued.
It’s unclear if Blizzard has any targets set or even a timeframe in mind for when it would like the initiative to be up and running. But as Morhaime’s memo noted that the “diversity initiative will require a commitment from every one of us, but especially from our leaders, managers, and hiring teams,” everyone at Blizzard will be doing their bit towards putting it in place.
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