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Activision Blizzard’s New Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer Better Be Getting PAID for the Disaster She’s Walking Into

I'm going to call this a course correction, and not "step in the right direction."

Activision Blizzard logo next to image of Kristen Hines portrait photo. Image: Business Wire & Activision Blizzard.

Activision Blizzard announced they’re bringing on Kristen Hines to serve as Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Officer. This hiring makes Hines the fourth woman and only Black person—period—currently serving in the company’s upper-level leadership. The fact of her being a visible woman of color and Black person on a board of 14 people may look like “Huzzah! Progress!” However, I’ve been burnt too many times by this company, let alone the hundreds of others who follow this path of hiring a marginalized voice to fill a new DEI role on an overwhelmingly white leadership team.

I hope Hines is getting paid very well, considering tenure for DEI workers tends to be very rocky. These roles often go through the laborious process of organizing and finding the company’s issues. Then, after finding the solutions, they’re often told it won’t work for XYZ reasons and are pushed out if they push back on established “norms”—even when it is their job to find these issues. This is why (much-need) DEI workers exist in a weird space, and the best ones with the most stubborn institutions and companies don’t stick around for long—especially, as in Hines’ case, when they’re the first person in the position. Activision Blizzard announced this role’s creation back in January.

Months of revelations

#ActiBlizzWalkout
(Getty Images)

This hiring comes at a time of poor public opinion towards Activision Blizzard. They’ve had allegation after allegation (with some already confirmed by courts or press) of sexual harassment of employees, toxic work environments, discrimination, massive layoffs, and union busting. The company has settled out of court with some and, in other cases, has been forced to pay tens of millions in illegal labor practice fines. Further complicating matters, Microsoft is acquiring Activision Blizzard and decided that CEO Bobby Kotick (who knew about many of these issues and has his own allegations) needs to stay on during the transition, if not for longer. Yes, I, too, am confused.

Not sticking around for long is another issue on Hines’ plate when it comes to the rest of the company’s staff, as well. In January 2022, the company revealed problems with employee retention. Back in October 2021 (what was still basically the beginning of a laundry list of Activision Blizzard revelations), the company released five commitments to address rampant company discrimination.

We will increase the percentage of women and non-binary people in our workforce by 50% and will invest $250 million to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent –Today, approximately 23% of our global employee population identifies as women or non-binary.

Hines and Activision Blizzard

In a press statement announcing her joining the company, Hines showed enthusiasm joining in these efforts:

I’m excited to join a company that is prioritizing its commitment to DEI and 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. 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.

I genuinely wish Hines the best, as being a Black woman in the gaming space is a difficult place whether you are a player, programmer, or serve in an administrative role. In the tweet that led to this article, I saw the hate I’ve faced playing online (including Overwatch) for years. I hope that she can catalyze change within the company for the people who work there and players alike—and is being fairly compensated for attempting to drag the company’s name from the gutters it sits in.

(via Video Games Chronicle, image: Business Wire & Activision Blizzard)

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(she/her) Award-winning digital artist and blogger with experience and an educational background in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. A resident of the yeeHaw land, she spends most of her time watching movies, playing video games, and reading.