Activision Blizzard has announced the hiring of Kristen Hines to serve as chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer. Hines comes from outside the video game industry, having previously led DEI efforts at information technology company Accenture.
Hines' hiring is the latest mile marker on Activision Blizzard's long march that began after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against it for allegedly fostering a culture of sexual harassment and toxicity.
Since then, the company has denied the claims, settled a parallel lawsuit with the Equal Opportunity Commission, laid off employees, grappled with unionization efforts at Raven Software, and weathered revelations that CEO Bobby Kotick allegedly participated in and covered up said harassment.
It's also facing a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of a deceased employee.
The company has also terminated employees accused of participating in said toxic behavior, upgraded the employment status of contract quality assurance employees, and agreed to establish a fund for employees who experienced harassment at the company as part of its settlement with the EEOC.
And of course, Microsoft is currently working to acquire the company for $68.7 billion.
Any chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer has a big hill to climb when joining large organizations with decades-old culture, Hines' tasks will be particularly challenging given Activision Blizzard's troubled history.
In the announcement of her hire, Hines noted that the company's challenges are part of a long, industry-wide trend. "In an industry with historical underrepresentation, I’m looking forward to leading the company’s efforts to further build a workplace that values transparency, equity, and inclusivity,” she stated.
Kotick, who has faced calls for his resignation following the allegations of his own behavior (and might be set to exit the company with a hefty payout) stated that Activision Blizzard "has ambitious goals to become the most welcoming and inclusive company in the gaming industry," and that Hines' experience successfully implementing such programs at other companies could help the company do the same.