Activision Blizzard Inc announced a corporate diversity and workplace culture improvement plan, following criticism over the lack of women and minorities in its business.
Activision Blizzard, one of the largest gaming companies, said it was doing a review of diversity policies after a report by a website called, gamersadvocate.com, that used data from the website to identify people in certain roles at the company as white.
In a staff meeting on Friday, the CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, apologized for not reacting more strongly to the report, an insider told Reuters, but said “it would be wrong to brand them as racist or to think that they are”.
About two-thirds of Activision Blizzard’s 6,000 employees are women, the company said in its statement, but acknowledged the issue.
Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. Photograph: Noam Galai/Getty Images
Earlier this week, there were reports on Kotaku that Kotick has not attended the company’s Diversity & Inclusion meetings for some time. On Thursday, the Guardian quoted several employees who said they had attended only one such meeting since April, and that Kotick attended two, suggesting a lack of attendance.
This week, Kotick responded to reporters’ questions about the controversy at Activision Blizzard in an interview with the blog, Gaming Observer. He said he had only missed one diversity and inclusion meeting since April, but declined to elaborate.
“That is primarily due to the fact that I am on a very long sales kick right now and so I can’t do the one or two meetings that we typically do on diversity and inclusion every quarter,” he said.
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Activision Blizzard is made up of Activision, Blizzard, King and MLG, all of which are separate businesses. Activision Blizzard’s balance sheet is also being held up as a reason for the problems in reporting diversity and inclusion numbers. The company’s shares rose 1.4% on Friday after the announcement.
Last year, Activision sold the majority of its studios to a private equity group, which took the company private. The company had initially been planning to break up the business by selling off its games studios, but then scrapped those plans amid media scrutiny. At the time, Kotick said that creating a studio was the “canary in the coal mine” and that the studio sales were not reflecting Activision Blizzard’s desire to improve diversity.
In 2015, Activision announced that it was hiring renowned race-relations expert Patti Hart, a former chairwoman of the National Organization for Women in Silicon Valley, to conduct a review of the company’s diversity and inclusion. Hart said last year that when she looked at the company’s workforce, it “didn’t look very diverse,” and that she had recommended an approach that may have been too difficult at the time.
Activision said in Friday’s statement that it was accelerating its efforts and would shortly announce additional steps, including increasing the number of diversity and inclusion meetings in 2017, and increasing the number of presentations made to the executive team by diversity and inclusion experts, as well as those women and people of color in senior leadership positions.