Blizzard is launching a "global diversity and inclusion initiative" aimed at raising the percentage of women and underrepresented minority groups in its workforce and improving the work environment for those groups, according to an internal company email recently received by Kotaku.
Only 21 per cent of Blizzard employees are women, wrote company president Mike Morhaime in the email — which a Blizzard rep confirmed to me is real — and "they leave our organisation at a higher rate than men." These numbers, Morhaime writes, are consistent with the game industry at large, but Blizzard wants to improve on them.
Morhaime wrote the company is launching a diversity effort that will first focus on women, but will expand later this year to encompass other "under-represented minority groups," who make up 14 per cent of Blizzard, according to the email. Morhaime wrote that while the company will not set "quotas" for hiring female job candidates, Blizzard is encouraging employees to refer more qualified women to open positions, and it's looking into ways to better recruit from women's groups, conferences, and universities with an initial focus on "more women leaders and a diverse new graduate hiring class." The company also plans to partner with organisations like Girls Who Code in hopes of bringing more women into game development and computer science.
The email states that Blizzard already has an LGBTQ council that offers monthly meetings and advises on Blizzard projects, and it recently created a similar council made up of women from "various levels" in the company, with the goal of helping the company's leaders "think through ideas to attract more women and make Blizzard a more rewarding and enjoyable place for women to work."
The email also outlines other concrete steps that Blizzard plans to take to "enhance inclusiveness for those who identify as women," including "networking sessions and mentoring groups for women across the company," an annual "Women @ Blizzard" summit starting next year, and improved bias training for managers.
Recent years have seen Blizzard stress the importance of diversity in games like Overwatch, at events like BlizzCon, and in the wake of an incident where pro Hearthstone player Terrence Miller dealt with a flood of Twitch chat racism during a major event. Within its own workforce, Blizzard has seen recent success, more than doubling the number of women interns it recruited in the past year, according to VentureBeat.
There have, however, been ups and downs, with Blizzard taking flack for things like a pose for Overwatch's Tracer (which the development team ended up changing after controversy) and the game's problems with toxicity, especially toward women. It's a process, but Morhaime says in the email that Blizzard is in it for the long haul.
"Our diversity initiative will require a commitment from every one of us, but especially from our leaders, managers, and hiring teams," concludes Morhaime's email. "We appreciate your dedication to help Blizzard achieve this goal."