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Activision refuses to adopt diverse hiring practices across company

Activision Layoffs “in the Hundreds” Are Coming

Activision Blizzard has decided that diversity is just too hard, according to a new report from Motherboard. The major US union federation AFL-CIO is behind the push, based on the Rooney Rule. The Rooney Rule is a policy from 2003 that requires NFL organizations to commit to diverse hiring practices. The union is pushing more industries to adopt the plan. But it seems that the multi-billion dollar mega-publisher thinks that’s too hard.

So why is Activision Blizzard doing this?

“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.”

Going further, a letter circulated and obtained by Motherboard put a finer point on their argument. And it’s a pretty terrible argument.

“implementing a policy that would extend such an approach to all hiring decisions amounts to an unworkable encroachment on the Company’s ability to run its business and compete for talent in a highly competitive, fast-moving market”. This coming from the company that routinely lays off workers after projects are finished. And the same one that fired hundreds of workers during a profitable year.

To translate this, it basically means that Activision doesn’t want to deal with the politics of trying to hire people and help build labor power in more intensely anti-worker or right-wing countries. Activision operates offices in Poland, which recently began enforcing an incredibly repressive anti-abortion law that all but outlaws the health procedure in the country. That’s just one example that shows Activision is unable and unwilling to stand up against those kinds of practices. In one way, it kind of proves the point of the AFL-CIO proposal.

The AFL-CIO told Kotaku that the proposal is, in fact, “clearly workable”, directly countering the claims of Activision Blizzard and other companies. The group also points out that plenty of companies across various industries have managed to commit to these hiring practice revamps. The AFL-CIO Deputy Director of Corporations Brandon Rees pointed out that these proposals are helpful for doing more than just getting talented people jobs.

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What does this proposal do?

These pushes often help start conversations within companies about key issues like racism and sexism. Although given that Bobby Kotick thinks games aren’t political, I can see a culture at this company that directly shuts those conversations down.

“We see this as a helpful tool,” said Rees. “And felt that now was the right time to take steps to ensure their hiring practices promote diversity and inclusion in gaming. It’s important given the Black Lives Matter movement’s focus on racial justice, and #MeToo’s focus on gender equity and sexual harassment in the workplace.”

And let’s be honest, anyone who has been in the industry long enough knows this song and dance. Just recently a thread responding to this story on Twitter pointed out that this practice of claiming capable women don’t exist in gaming is way too common, and goes back years.

In some good news, other companies in gaming have committed to examining the proposal, at a minimum. Electronic Arts have said they will look into things, so that’s helpful. It remains to be seen how deep the policy goes in practice. It’s easy to trot out new hires for director and CEO positions and claim victory, but it’s another thing entirely to push for more diversity company-wide.

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