Activision Blizzard Find Interviewing Diversity Hires Too Hard

by in General | Jan, 28th 2021

Activision Blizzard is reportedly very pro-diversity, but a new request from the AFL-CIO is reportedly “unworkable.” Specifically, this new request is an “unworkable encroachment on the company’s ability to run its business,” as per the Activision Blizzard lawyers. But if making sure a diverse hire is considered for every role is so hard, how are they a company dedicated to diversity in the first place? A proposal was made to Activision Blizzard and EA from the AFL-CIO labor federation (who own shares in both companies). 

This proposal is similar to the Rooney Rule in the NFL. Due to a lack of diversity in the NFL coaching staff, a rule was adopted in 2003 to require league teams to interview at least one diverse candidate for the head coaching vacancies from now on. How is this such a bad thing for Activision Blizzard, asking for further diversity?

Diversity Is Important in All Roles

According to the AFL-CIO, they want that rule in both Activision Blizzard and EA, saying: “A diverse workforce at all levels of a company can enhance long-term company performance,” and we can’t say we disagree. 

The confusing thing about this is, Activision Blizzard talked quite a bit about their diversity programs. “We value the diversity of the Activision Blizzard community and understand that our employees and players come from a wide array of backgrounds. In order to deliver epic and engaging entertainment for a diverse, growing global audience, our workforce must reflect these communities,” according to a Blizzard statement to Vice.

Activision Blizzard wants an exemption from this rule. They claim to have a Rooney Rule already in place for director/CEO nominees to add this to every role would make hiring people “unworkable.” 

The company is also pretty tight-lipped when discussing exactly how they promote equity and diversity in the company. It’s not a big secret that the higher ranks of gaming and game development are primarily white men. We’ve got many ways to go if we want diversity, but some groups are working hard towards that goal. In what way does making sure all races and genders have a shot at jobs “unworkable?”

“Activision Blizzard is committed to inclusive hiring practices and to creating a diverse workforce; it is essential to our mission,” said Activision Blizzard’s president and COO in a press statement. “Vice completely mischaracterized the SEC filing made by our outside attorneys. In fact, our hiring practices are rooted in ensuring diversity for all roles. We engage in this aggressively and successfully. Our objection was rooted in the fact that the AFL-CIO proposal failed to adequately consider how to apply these practices in all of the countries we operate in.”

The AFL-CIO has had success with the Rooney Rule in other corporate backgrounds, such as banks. They have convinced five of the largest banks in the U.S. to adopt these policies. What is stopping Activision Blizzard from putting forth more effort into considering diversity hires? Nobody is saying that every person has to be of a diverse group. The AFL-CIO wants Activision Blizzard to consider them in the process for jobs. 

It’s interesting to note that EA said they would consider the proposal, whereas it seems Activision Blizzard is staunchly against it. 

Daniel Alegre spoke about the mission of diversity. “In order to ensure that our games stay true to our mission–to connect and engage the world through epic entertainment–we require that all candidates of all backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, races and sexual orientations are considered for each and every open role. We aggressively recruit diverse candidates, so the workforce provides the inspired creativity required to meet the expectations of our diverse 400 million players across 190 countries. We remain committed to increasing diversity at all levels throughout Activision Blizzard worldwide.”

If this is true, why is the AFL-CIO’s request so much to ask for? If you’re already doing that, as you say, is the notion of considering other diversity hires such a downer? If diversity is already so important, where’s the harm in implementing an official rule? That means they’d have to do it instead of saying it.


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