In light of recent turmoil at Activision Blizzard, the company has undertaken many measures to investigate and improve the company culture moving forward. Following its own internal investigation, the organization dismissed 20 employees and reprimanded 20 more for their alleged inappropriate conduct. But looking to the past is only part of the equity equation.
Paving the Way for a More Equitable Workplace at Activision Blizzard
As part of a proposed agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Activision Blizzard presented its intent to overhaul polices to prevent future discrimination in the workplace. In support of this, the company will also be bolstering its human resources and talent acquisition practices as well as adding 19 new team members for its ethics and compliance department.
These steps point to equal footing for all Activision Blizzard’s employees, both present and future, in a company well overdue for change. Yet the industry at large also suffers from broader disparities. While 46% of gamers are women, only 16% of executives in the gaming industry are female. So as Activision Blizzard rolls out its new zero-tolerance harassment policy and increases its own hiring percentages for women and non-binary individuals, the company is also looking outward.
The EEOC agreement also includes language supporting the allocation of remaining funds to be distributed to a number of different charity groups. This includes those that will “advance women in the video game industry or promote awareness around harassment and gender equality issues.” Selected charities have yet to be determined and will be approved in conjunction by the EEOC but may also include those that foster diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
Gaming Industry Resources and Support for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives
There are a number of nonprofit organizations set up specifically to empower women in gaming, content creation, and coding within traditionally male-dominated industries. Taking a closer look at some of these DEI-focused organizations can shed light for others in the industry regarding just how far it has come, and how much further it must go, to achieve true equity.
One well-known organization is Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that encourages girls to pursue computer science and other development course work and degree programs. Programs offer resources to hone tech programming skills as well as network and connect women as well as nonbinary individuals looking for an inclusive environment to learn in. On the other side of the educational equation is Women in Games, a company focused on helping females attain positions in gaming and fueling their careers up the corporate ladder. The activist organization also advocates for pay transparency and equality, tenants which Activision Blizzard recently recommitted to with employees regarding visibility on pay equity.
DEI efforts must include, but also extend beyond, women in the gaming industry. Complete inclusion in matters of race, religion, gender, disability age or other identifying characteristics is a lofty goal, but one that can be achieved. Companies like Balance Patch help organizations identify and manage unconscious bias and find ways to support people from all walks of life. Black Girls Code combines advocacy and access for young women of color to explore skills and careers in technology.
Activision Blizzard’s Ever-Evolving Path to Growth and Leadership
The call for DEI efforts across the gaming industry is so strong that it’s near impossible not to hear it. What’s more, leaders are responding. Most recently, an Activision Blizzard Co-Leader made the decision to step away from her role at the end of 2021. Having assisted the company in planning a number of key changes to make Activision Blizzard a more equitable workplace, she plans to take her passion to a new project.
As shared in a recent blog, the changes at Activision Blizzard inspired her to extend her impact: “This energy has inspired me to step out and explore how I can do more to have games and diversity intersect, and hopefully make a broader industry impact that will benefit Blizzard (and other studios) as well.”
Not only are her current colleagues supportive of her decision, the company is making a financial contribution in her honor. Activision Blizzard plans to establish a $1 million grant to Women in Games to be used to help with skill building and mentorship programs.
During and beyond this transition, Activision Blizzard intends to remain committed to creating a better work environment. CEO Bobby Kotick reiterated this in a letter to employees that while “the guardrails weren’t in place everywhere to ensure that our values were being upheld,” the company is firmly dedicated to DEI and safe work environments for everyone. Having taken the EEOC’s review to heart, Activision Blizzard is ready to “sharpen our focus on the ways we can become a company others emulate as a model for workplace excellence and one with an unwavering commitment to its values.”