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Blizzard hires female Vice President of Culture to overhaul toxic values

Since countless accusations of misogyny and sexual misconduct broke last August, Blizzard has been working to improve its toxic culture. Jessica Martinez has now been hired to oversee the transition towards a ‘more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace.’

Blizzard has taken a PR battering in recent years, and rightfully so.

While the company has had no qualms about disregarding the gaming community in favour of maximum profits over the last decade, the lawsuits that continue to crop up today are a whole different kettle of fish.

As you’ll no doubt have heard by now, a two-year investigation back in August 2021 outed Blizzard for severely mismanaging and mistreating female employees. We previously covered the story in great depth.

Exposing a horrific ‘frat boy’ culture that normalised sexual harassment and gender discrimination, the leak culminated in waves of lawsuits, mass staff protests, and ultimately a complete shake-up of leadership with new executives continuing to arrive.

Since being acquired by Microsoft for a record $68bn deal in January, Blizzard President Mike Ybarra has worked to fill roles specifically focused on changing company values for the better. Two of these have now been filled.

Last month, Kristen Hines became Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, and this week Blizzard has announced Jessica Martinez as its first Vice President, Head of Culture.

She is credited with 14 years of experience in ‘leading strategy, communications, operations, and employee experience’ at Disney resorts.

This widely reported development hopefully spells the end of Blizzard prioritising male employees for promotions over their female counterparts.

Beyond just internal ramifications, though, it provides us with a glimmer of hope that systematic discrimination within the wider industry can start to be chipped away at too. It’s massively encouraging to see that more women than ever before are entering traditionally male-dominated industries.

Martinez will no doubt ensure that equitable values begin to prosper throughout Blizzard. The company describes her responsibilities as ‘growing and implementing culture strategy, ensuring team alignment across all teams, and revamping learning and talent development programs.’

Essentially, she will be pushing to ensure that inclusive values are known throughout the company, and that they’re reflected in day-to-day operations going forward.

In a company statement, Martinez added, ‘Making the values of our connections show up in what we do is how we bring humanity back to business.’

Having ticked off two major positions within Blizzard, Ybarra is now on the lookout for organisational leaders in human resources to ‘build trust, empower our teams, and help foster a safe, positive work environment for everyone.’

Given the scale of change at play here, there may yet be a chance for Blizzard to salvage its reputation – so long as it doesn’t compromise on this positive vision.

As for winning gamers over with better quality products, that’s down to Microsoft to fix.


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