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Wow Classic Gold: Introducing Makaiya Brown, DE&I and Development Lead

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Hello, Blizzard community! My name is Makaiya Brown, and I’ve been Blizzard’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), and Development Lead since September 2021. With International Women’s Day coming up, I thought what better time to share some thoughts on this role and how our work at Blizzard is progressing so far.

First, the obvious question: why Blizzard? When I met with people here, what struck me the most were two things. First, the drive and commitment for meaningful change from the employees–all incredibly talented people who want to better our culture while continuing to pursue the work they love. And second, the genuine commitment from the Blizzard leadership team, who are spearheading change across the board to ensure their teams feel safe, heard, and able to be their best, creative selves. It is rare to see such an overwhelming, collective drive at all levels, and guiding that energy as our work progresses inspires me.

We are here because we want to make games that are welcoming to everyone, and to truly do that, we need multiple perspectives. With women, people of color, LGBT , or people who are differently-abled feeling Blizzard is a place for them–a place where they can be their best selves–we gain those valuable perspectives. A more inclusive culture results in better games, period.

The most important pillar that drives lasting change is education; and I realize that for some people, education around DE&I topics is uncomfortable. Everyone has biases based on multiple influences—how we grew up, who we grew up around, what type of media we consume. In the workplace, these biases manifest in particular ways. For example, if you are used to working around the same people with the same behaviors, and someone enters your circle who is different, those behaviors might be unintentionally offensive, or cause someone to feel uncomfortable in sharing ideas. Recognizing these biases is okay, and vital for personal, professional, and organizational growth. 

It all begins with listening. To chart the future of Blizzard, it’s imperative to understand the past. When we have a clear picture of where we are, we can make meaningful changes toward the future. Inspired by what I have learned, we have already begun building a robust learning platform, a system for actionable leadership accountability, reworking our recruitment practices, and more.

Progress is also taking place at multiple levels organically—you have seen many Blizzard development teams making great strides in representation, accessibility, and player behavior recently. And this year to date, 31.5% of our new hires self-identify as women–that’s just the beginning. We are grateful for the efforts of individuals and teams who have immediately embraced our goal of increasing diversity within Blizzard, and we are committed to a continuous focus on improvement in this area.

As a leader in DE&I, seeing this kind of action from individuals en masse in their areas of influence is incredibly moving. It is the kind of work that adds up to real change. Our work at Blizzard is not a matter of putting in a bunch of corporate training programs and calling it a day–this is a large-scale effort at the business, team, and individual levels, that will continue to be iterated upon and evolved to level up the core of who Blizzard is.

People of all backgrounds want to both create and play games to escape—there is enough discrimination in the outside world—and, of all places, everyone should be able to feel comfortable and welcomed here and in our universes. We have a lot of work to do. It is my hope that building a more inclusive workplace and, in turn, more inclusive games, will influence more understanding, care, and appreciation of people who we think are different from us. And if we, as an industry, continue to create better spaces in the gaming world, maybe over time, our real world will become better too.

We will be in touch regularly about our progress.

Thank you for reading,
Makaiya Brown
DE&I and Development Lead

Mar 07 2022

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