Internal Blizzard Memo Details Efforts To Hire, Retain More Women

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."

WATCH MORE: Gaming News


Comments

    Encouragement rather than quotas, that's the fair way to go.

      Yep agreed, I see nothing wrong with this. The company I work for did something similar over the last 3 odd years and I have to say the business is in a much better place than it was with a female CEO and many more female execs in the lead. Anecdotal evidence sure, but it didn't hurt our business whatsoever.

        That's good to know. The best person for ANY particular job might be any gender. You can talk about gender characteristics if you like (like the Google guy did) but you need to judge every single job applicant on his/her own merits. The best thing companies can do is make sure that the pool from which potential applicants are drawn is as large as possible.

    A quota for women/minorities and a council for gay employees to oversee games and content and ensure they aren't offended. What is the world coming to? 10 years from now, people outside those groups will be the minority. What then I wonder.

      You didn't read the article at all, did you? They specifically said they're not setting quotas and there was no mention of content overseeing. You fear is ridiculous.

    Encouraging more women to join is great. But right from the start they say they have a major issue in retaining them? Seems like that would be better addressed then recruitment.

      They probably churn out as fast as the dudes, but dudes get replenished in similar numbers. I can't imagine working at Blizz is a cushy job.

        He straight up says women leave at a higher rate than men

        Women leave at a higher rate because of toxic workplace culture.

    The "Butt Pose" controversy was more about how it didn't fit the character. When that happened a bunch of groups mistakenly thought it was about sexism and jump on the bandwagon. The pose was fine for Femme Fatale Widowmaker who still has it.

    Internal Blizzard Memo...

    Uh-oh, here we go again.

    ...Details Efforts To Hire, Retain More Women

    Oh, OK.

    For those who have never worked in IT - or more likely, for those fedora'ed gentlemen who do and don't understand - it is a violently toxic industry towards women.

    I've worked in all kinds of IT organisations - from telcos to advanced research facilities and the story is the same wherever you go. Due to cultural and historical bias, males make up the majority of roles. And within that male demographic is an over-representation of all the IT stereotypes you care to mention.

    To put not to fine a point on it, IT is a sector where males with poor social and emotional capabilities are found in greater numbers than elsewhere. I've seen plenty argue this is because many are on the autism spectrum and this aligns with the cognitive and social alignment of these roles, or that it's simply a question of cultural preferencing based on a relatively few decades of stereotypes and media representation.

    Whatever the reason, it's how it is. And it's not an environment that is naturally friendly to women, whether that be from outright hostility or from being seen as objects of emotional fixation one way or the other. Every single woman I know who has worked in IT has a massive list of horror stories.

    Now the usual 'Not an MRA but #1 upvoted by MRAs' crew are out whining about quotas. What these people unsurprisingly fail to grasp is that the dominance of men in this industry is due to equally artificial reasons. It's not because 'men are genetically better at computers' for crying out loud, it's because during the 70s, 80s and 90s there were very specific cultural conditions that prevented women from entering these industries. Some of you are too young to know it, others too misogynistic to admit it.

    Up until recently, the 'quotas' were male - they just weren't officially written down. That has created a massive imbalance both numerically and culturally.

    If you want the quality you allegedly say you do, then the only way that will happen is by forcing a significant uptake of women until you at least approach parity - and then the culture stabilises, more equitable access for both sexes is provided, and then a more accurate assessment can be made of intake strategies.

    Because you're not going to see women 'naturally' join via 'encouragement' or 'merit' while the cultural bias stifles both behind the scenes.

    tl;dr ask yourself whether you REALLY think men are genetically superior to women when it comes to it. If you do, jump in the nearest bin. If you don't, then spend 60 seconds to think about how the industry got the way it is if it's not a genetic issue - and what you need to do to achieve parity prior to equality.

      Are you really trying to start a debate about the genetic superiority between sexes? There will always be outliers however surely you can't deny that men and women in general are usually not physically equal.

      Before anything starts screeching, I am referring to labour intensive tasks in general. Blokes will usually simply be physically stronger even when both sexes hit the gym etc. Mentally though I believe men and women would have the same potential.

      Why not just hire the best person for the job not just by skill but by attitude as well as experience?

        I'm unsure whether you actually read my post? The whole point is there is no genetic superiority - so people need to start coming clean about the real reasons men hugely outweight women in IT positions.

        And those reasons are cultural - that the industry was a boys-only treehouse for the first few decades of its existence and is now being dragged kicking and screaming out of that.

        Why not hire the best person for the job? Good question matey. You should be asking that of the tens of thousands of men who hired other men for IT positions in the last fifty years solely based on their expectations. And the answer would be 'we don't see many women lining up for these jobs because we have made the industry toxic to them'.

        It's not hard to understand. When a given industry is gender biased one way, its culture remains biased that way until you have enough of the opposite sex on board for them to alter the cultural balance. But you can't hire those people 'naturally' as the biased culture drives them away/limits opportunity.

        So you introduce a force hiring policy to bolster the numbers of the under-represented gender until you start approaching some form of parity - by that point that gender has enough power within the sector to de-toxify the culture and make it welcoming to everyone.

        Then you remove the force hiring process and allow people to be freely selected.

        It's not complicated to understand, it's just a lot of people like the status quo and act willfully ignorant.

          How do you explain events like Code Jam which is an international programming competition held by the wonderfully diverse Google never having had a female finalist since its inception in 2003? The competitors range from over 50 countries and no one gets extra points for gender. It is a pure skill based competition.

          Also on your topic of no genetic superiority, males and females are not equal in all things. It would be naive to believe all people are created equal, it is simply not true. I'm sure there are things I'm going to be naturally better at than you and vice versa regardless of your gender/sex. For all we know I may of been born with more fast twitch fibres and you may have more slow twitch fibres so I can probably run faster but you can run longer.

          Sure people can train to be better at things but there is no way you or I are going to beat Usain Bolt in the 100 metre without getting drugged up (which is unnatural).

            Yes, some people are genetically better at things than others. Are you claiming that ALL men are superior in IT-related genetics? And Usain Bolt - you might want to realise that you're claiming he's superior based on his racial genetics, since I assume you aren't making a claim based on his gender.

      Because you're not going to see women 'naturally' join via 'encouragement' or 'merit'
      Are you seriously trying to argue that women should be hired for things not based on their merit?

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