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Blizzard appoints head of culture to create "diverse, equitable, and inclusive" workplace

The move comes as parent company Activision Blizzard attempts to deal with a cultural crisis.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

May 9, 2022

2 Min Read
The Blizzard Entertainment logo

Blizzard Entertainment has named Jessica Martinez as its first VP, head of culture as part of its "ongoing initiative to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace culture.

The move comes as Activision Blizzard attempts to deal with a cultural crisis stemming from allegations of harassment against senior figures, including CEO Bobby Kotick.

Blizzard has also been rocked by that deluge of misconduct allegations company, with then-president J. Allen Brack departing the company in 2021 shortly after the state of California sued Activision Blizzard for cultivating a "frat boy" workplace culture.

Brack was replaced by co-leaders in the form of Mike Ybarra and Jen Oneal, although the latter also departed Blizzard within months -- citing a desire to "step out and explore how I can do more to have games and diversity intersect."

Soon after, it was reported that Oneal's departure was partly the result of a pay dispute that saw her offered a smaller wage than her fellow co-lead, Mike Ybarra. A Wall Street Journal report also indicated Oneal had experienced harassment and discrimination during her time at the publisher.

"I have been tokenized, marginalized, and discriminated against," she told Activision Blizzard's legal team in the email sent last year. "It was clear that the company would never prioritize our people the right way."

As the new VP, head of culture, Martinez hopes to reform Blizzard and create a workplace where "people at every level can learn, grown, and bring their most creative selves to their work."

According to a post on the Blizzard website, Martinez will be specifically responsible for growing and implementing the studio's culture strategy, ensuring alignment across all teams and functions, and revamping learning and talent development programs.

"When you create a people-first environment where teams feel safe, valued, and work together toward a shared purpose, everyone thrives–the employees, the players, and the business," said Martinez, who spent 14 years leading strategy, comms, operations and employee experience at the Walt Disney Company. "Making the values of our connections show up in what we do is how we bring humanity back to business."

Activision Blizzard currently remains under government investigation for its alleged cultural shortcomings. The company also recently told shareholders to vote down a request for an annual harassment report, and has been accused of threatening staff to prevent them discussing wages or cultural issues

The company is also being sued by New York City for allegedly rushing into a deal that would see Microsoft purchase the Call of Duty publisher for $68.7 billion.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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