Blizzard hires vice president of culture to improve corporate culture

Blizzard Entertainment has hired a ‘head of culture’. She has to tackle the corporate culture within the studio. Blizzard and parent company Activision came under fire last year after allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Jessica Martinez Takes on the Role of Vice President and Head of Culture at Blizzard, writes the company. Together with Blizzard’s leadership, she must “grow out and implement” the studio’s new culture strategy. Martinez also needs to align all teams and functions and revamp learning and talent development programs within Blizzard. The announcement states that Martinez will lead the studio’s learning and development team, among other things. Previously, she worked at Disney for many years and held various positions there.

Blizzard boss Mike Ybarra wrote in January that the studio will work to ‘rebuild confidence in Blizzard’. He then went on to take on new leadership roles to address the corporate culture within Blizzard, also promising the arrival of a “culture leader.” In April parent company Activision Blizzard has already hired a head of diversity and at the end of last year, the company set up a special committee to improve the working atmosphere. There were already a number of changes within Blizzard’s leadership in August.

The corporate culture commitments follow on from sexual harassment allegations within Activision Blizzard. The company was sued last year by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The agency did this after two years of investigating the company. According to prosecutors, the investigation revealed that Activision Blizzard discriminates against women in various ways in the areas of equal opportunity regarding pay, promotions and other aspects of work. In addition, within Activision Blizzard, there would be a corporate culture in which women are sexually harassed.

Shareholders recently submitted a proposal to produce an annual report discussing efforts against abuse, discrimination and bullying. Shareholders also called for an employee representative to be added to the company’s Board of Directors. He would be elected by non-managers within the studio.

Activision Blizzard’s board urged them to vote against both proposals. The company said it should “continue to respond promptly to employee concerns, rather than expending resources on preparing yet another report.” In addition, allowing employees to elect their own representative to the board would seek to replace ‘the board’s careful judgment on the criteria to be reflected in the board’s candidate pool’.

The proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft is also currently underway. Shareholders voted in favor of this last week. At the same time, investors are afraid that the takeover cannot go through. This is partly due to the ongoing investigation into the takeover that the US Federal Trade Commission has launched. Earlier this year, the ARM acquisition by Nvidia fell through pressure from market regulators such as the FTC.

Jessica Martinez. Source: Blizzard Entertainment