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Activision Blizzard Hires Kristen Hines as Chief DEI Officer Amid Workplace Controversy

Video game company Activision Blizzard had named Kristen Hines as its new Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. This appointment comes amid lawsuits, workplace controversy and a pending acquisition of the company by Microsoft for $68.7 billion

Hines will start her position on April 25, joining the company’s senior leadership team. Her most recent position before this was with information technology company Accenture, where she led its Global Inclusion, Diversity and Equity practice and also sat on the global leadership team for Accenture’s CEO Transformation practice. Hines helped the organizations Accenture worked with to create and reinforce their own “DEI strategies and capabilities” while “ensuring success through integration with the business, data-driven accountability and continuous feedback loops between leaders and employees.”

In a statement, Hines said she’s eager to join the company as it has prioritized its commitment to DEI and is “making progress on the ambitious goals it has set for itself.”

“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 said. “Gaming has amazing potential to connect communities around the world and showcase heroes from all backgrounds. I am looking forward to playing a part in expanding the landscape of talent who brings these compelling experiences to a broad base of players.”

In her new role, Hines will foster a workplace environment that is diverse, equitable and inclusive by implementing programs and policies while working with Activision Blizzard’s leadership team and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). She will also work with the company’s gaming teams to “ensure diverse and inclusive perspectives are included in game design, including storylines, character development, gameplay and community interaction,” according to the company. 

As mentioned, Activision Blizzard has been entangled in its controversial workplace culture for some time. In 2021, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued the company following a two-year investigation. The company is also facing sexual harassment lawsuits, the most recent being a federal suit with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which recently ended with Activision Blizzard paying an $18 million settlement. 

The lawsuit with DFEH is ongoing, and recently, Janet Wipper, who served as chief counsel for DFEH, was fired on March 29. Her lawyer Alexis Ronickher told the Associated Press of the news and did not specify why she was fired, but said she might file a claim under the state’s whistleblower protection law. Wipper was reappointed to her position by California Gov. Gavin Newsom just four months before being fired. 

Activision Blizzard employees have also formed the ABK Workers Alliance, a group that supports union organizing with the company and has led walkouts over workplace issues. This is the first public effort to unionize the company at Raven Software, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard. Quality Assurance workers at its subsidiary are attempting to unionize with the Communications Workers of America. 

To address some of its workplace complaints and be more inclusive, Activision Blizzard put several new measures in place last fall, which include “ending mandatory arbitration on sexual harassment and discrimination allegations and setting a goal to boost their female and non-binary employees by 50% in five years,” according to Hollywood Reporter

The company has also said it would release an annual pay equity report and add a zero-tolerance harassment policy. In addition, the company announced last week that it would add contingent and temporary QA workers to its full-time staff and raise their minimum hourly rates starting on July 1.

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