A letter reviewed by Motherboard reveals gaming industry company Activision's push against diversifying its workforce based on a labor proposal. In the letter, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) proposed that the gaming firm implement steps to increase diversity in its ranks.
In response, Activision reportedly disagreed and said that the idea is "an unworkable encroachment" which would impair Activision's power to work "in a highly competitive, fast-moving market." That's not a great look for the company.
The AFL-CIO's shareholder proposals apply to both Activision and Electronic Arts, wherein the labor federation has suggested that both companies need to work toward introducing qualified members out of a pool of women applicants as well as racial minorities. It sounds like Activision isn't so excited about the Rooney Rule like some other firms are.
What is the Rooney Rule? — Back in 2003, the National Football League adopted a rule that required football teams to expand and introduce complexity to their interviewing pools. This meant that teams had to interview professionally qualified ethnic minority candidates for the role of coach. Later on, the league policy expanded to include women.
Naysayers have labeled the policy — which is named after the previous Steelers owner Dan Rooney — as unnecessary and unfair, but the Rooney Rule is clear: for a candidate to be considered for a front-office position, whether they are white or not, their resume must be impressive. As research shows, there's no dearth of stellar gaming and engineer professionals among women and people of color. But getting a foot in the door remains hard for them.
What Activision says — According to Motherboard, AFL-CIO argued that the rule would help with "workforce diversity by requiring that the initial pool of candidates from which new employees are hired by the company shall include, but need not be limited to, qualified women and minority candidates."
In return, Activision told the outlet, "Our talent is the lifeblood of Activision Blizzard. We value the diversity of the Activision Blizzard community and understand that our employees and players come from a wide array of backgrounds. In order to deliver epic and engaging entertainment for a diverse, growing global audience, our workforce must reflect these communities."
Activision also noted that it has scholarship programs in place for minority applicants. On the surface, it may sound like Activision isn't enthusiastic about diversifying its worker pool, but the more realistic version of events goes like this: the gaming industry giant has its own measures and doesn't want to be micromanaged by a labor federation, though it could be helpful to sincerely listen to AFL-CIO's suggestions. They're legally non-binding and straight from workers' mouths, after all.
UPDATE (5:47 p.m. E.T.): Input received the following statement from Activision president Daniel Alegre:
Activision Blizzard is committed to inclusive hiring practices and to creating a diverse workforce; it is essential to our mission. Vice completely mischaracterized the SEC filing made by our outside attorneys. 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.
Our games have uniquely influenced popular culture and have helped to increase tolerance and inclusion through their connectivity as well as the heroes we portray and our stories that celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion in so many powerful ways.
In order to ensure that our games stay true to our mission--to connect and engage the world through epic entertainment--we require that all candidates of all backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, races and sexual orientations are considered for each and every open role. We aggressively recruit diverse candidates so the workforce provides the inspired creativity required to meet the expectations of our diverse 400 million players across 190 countries. We remain committed to increasing diversity at all levels throughout Activision Blizzard worldwide.