Blizzard’s new diversity lead assures fans of progress on inclusion, worker safety, and accountability

Mad fake mode.

With today being International Women’s Day, Blizzard saw fit to grant a spotlight to one of its top women, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) and Development Lead Makaiya Brown, who penned a blog assuring fans and those watching the corporate-level fires raging across the studio that everything is hunky-dory and they’re really making big strides, you guys, seriously.

Brown, who has held her position since September 2021 and has been with the company for three years, is full of effusive praise for the strides that Blizzard has made in the areas of inclusion and diversity, as well as the “genuine commitment from the Blizzard leadership team” to make sure developers “feel safe, heard, and able to be their best, creative selves.” Brown further lauds the fact that 31.5% of new hires self-identify as women, the creation of evolving company programs, and efforts to build “a robust learning platform, a system for actionable leadership accountability, [and reworked] recruitment practices.”

These statements all fly counter to ongoing investigations by state and federal organizations (one of which claims the studio shredded evidence), multiple walkouts, QA workers for Activision studio Raven Software reporting radio silence during its strike, multiple efforts by studio leadership to bust unions and reportedly stall a union’s formation, a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of a dev who was allegedly harassed to the point of suicide, former Blizzard co-lead Jen Oneal claiming she was harassed, underpaid, and “tokenized,” and a CEO who has dug his heels in despite weaksauce leadership maneuvers and a penchant for vindictive litigation. Some of these events were clearly before Brown’s tenure, but other events have come afterward and ultimately can’t be ignored as being part of Blizzard’s distant past.

Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees strike and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2022, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
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