EA Boss Calls For Safer Workspaces: "Leaders Who Fall Short Of This Must Go"
"The teams making games must represent the world in which we are serving."
Laura Miele, the chief operating officer at megapublisher Electronic Arts, gave an impassioned speech at the annual gaming convention DICE today in Las Vegas in which she called for the gaming industry to create safe spaces and do more to promote diversity and inclusion.
Speaking at DICE's opening keynote, "Realizing Our Full Potential to Lead the Modern Entertainment Industry," Miele said it is imperative that the gaming industry creates "real accountability" for its leaders. Anyone who falls short needs to go, Miele said.
She said the gaming industry can achieve this accountability through its existing trade groups and by creating new ones to "protect, defend, and fight for everyone" in the gaming industry.
"We have to have fair and safe work environments, at the very least. This is just basic table stakes," Miele said.
Without naming any specific person by name, Miele said the past year has provided examples of high-level leaders in gaming falling short. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has been accused of, among other things, knowing about and covering up instances of sexual harassment and abuse, and threatening to kill a female worker. He is now reportedly set to leave Activision Blizzard with many millions of dollars. High-level executives at companies like Ubisoft and Riot have been called out for bad behavior recently, too.
"We've seen leaders at the highest level fall short of setting the right standards. I don't care how successful the business is. Leaders who fall short of this must go," Miele said. "With far higher standards of expectations and measures that come from everywhere--investors, boards of directors, leadership teams. And it can come from all of us from across the industry. We need a safe place for people of all races, gender, sexual orientation, and abilities. The teams making games must represent the world in which we are serving."
Miele went on to say that the video game industry needs to create systems by which progress against its goals for diversity and inclusion can be tracked and shared publicly for the sake of accountability.
"We're not making games in our garage any more. We have a tremendous amount of power and responsibility in this world," Miele said, adding that the games that EA and others create help shape and inform culture at large.
"We must hold each other accountable. It matters a lot. People become game developers because they love making and playing games. But if we want to continue to attract the most creative and talented people we have to make our industry a great place to work for everyone," she said. "When we acknowledge the diversity of the human experience, we put ourselves in a better position to create content and experiences that represent the world that we live in. The games we create, the people who create them, shape societies and cultures all over the world. Attention must be paid on all fronts of diversity and inclusion."
Miele pointed out that EA recently created a new diversity and inclusion program within the company and established new policies around zero-tolerance for bad behavior and mechanisms for workers to safely report abuse and other issues. EA also recently adopted an "inclusion framework" into its game design pipelines to help its studios be intentional about the diversity and inclusion of the content they create in games.
"How often do we seek to tell stories of underrepresented people? Are we portraying people of diverse backgrounds authentically? Are we imparting unconscious bias into our narrative? And how do diverse and inclusive are our stories? Our gameplay modes? Our settings?" Miele said, listing examples of what the diversity and inclusion framework at EA is meant to ask its developers to consider.
This is all incredibly important, Miele said, because games have the power to "shape how people see the world and show up for each other."
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