Electronic Arts: Diversity in Human Resource Development
Interview with: Michaela Bartelt, Managing Director EA Germany
What is your commitment to more diversity, equality and inclusion in your teams at EA?
We’re deeply committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment at Electronic Arts, because it’s important that every one of our people feels respected, valued, and heard. As part of this ongoing effort, we’re continually investing in attracting and retaining a diverse and dynamic workforce. We lead with our actions, embedding DEI into our systems, tools and practices across our operations, including in our global inclusive recruiting strategies, which has led to hiring underrepresented talent above current representation rates for four straight years. And once people have joined our team, we aim to create a work environment and culture where they can thrive and do their best work. For instance, each executive team member maintains an Inclusion Action Plan for their business unit, designed to cultivate a more inclusive employee experience with leadership accountability.
Why is underrepresented talent important in a team?
Our business strategy, diverse player base, and global reach require a workforce that reflects and respects our players’ different identities and experiences and the communities we serve. Our inclusive culture also fuels our creative process and enables us to deliver amazing games and experiences for our players every day. This is not a new conversation but something we’ve been acting on at EA for a few years now, and over the last two fiscal years, we have sharply increased the percentage of our executive positions (VP+) with underrepresented talent. This strategic focus supports diverse talent across Electronic Arts by providing greater opportunity for advocacy and sponsorship. Our progress demonstrates that underrepresented talent can thrive and achieve their long-term aspirations at Electronic Arts.
What tips do you have for other games companies that want to attract and retain diverse new employees and underrepresented talent?
All workplaces should strive to create a respectful environment where their employees can thrive, and for this to happen, it needs to have the support and engagement of both the leadership team and the employees base. Both need to commit time and resources to building a supportive culture where employees feel heard and represented. At EA, we have a range of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) with thousands of members globally and our Global Diversity Council guides our commitment to DEI. The Council is led by our CEO and includes members of our executive team. In FY22, we expanded the Global Diversity Council and added Executive Advisors to our employee resource groups to deepen leadership engagement. These include ABLE, which champions for people with disability, created by and for people with disabilities, ASPIRE, our Asian, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiian group, BEAT, our African American and Black employee resource group, our LGBT+ PRIDE group, SOMOS, our Hispanic/Latino employee group, and Women’s Ultimate Team. All of these groups, which are inclusive of allies, enhance employee engagement and drive a more inclusive culture. We also disclose the data around underrepresented talent in leadership and technical roles in our annual public Impact Report, illustrating our focus on transparency and increasing representation across all levels and functions.
How is your commitment and diversity reflected in your games?
Everything we do is designed to inspire the world to play. That means developing and delivering games, content and online services for consoles, mobile devices and PCs that make everyone feel welcome, seen, heard AND supported. That’s why we have our inclusive design team who created our Inclusive Design Framework, which empowers developers to make the most inclusive creative decisions possible throughout a project’s development lifecycle. By involving diverse perspectives, amplifying the voices of all players, and ultimately helping to build muscle memory with game teams, we aim to elevate the experience of all players throughout our global gaming communities. We have a history of embedding inclusive design elements into our games going back to 2018, including Dead Space, Dragon Age, Apex Legends, Need for Speed, EA SPORTS FIFA, and The Sims 4.
You are also committed to improving accessibility in games. For example, you provide accessibility patents – the EA Patent Pledge. How does the patent program help other development studios make their games more accessible and inclusive?
We want to make sure that gaming is inclusive for everyone and that nothing comes between our players and our shared love for video games. To do this, we need to reduce or eliminate as many barriers to access as possible and empower our gamers. So, as part of our commitment to making video games more inclusive, we launched our accessibility patent pledge, because everyone deserves to game.
Through the pledge, we share our accessibility-related technology with the broader industry so that together we can meet the needs of our diverse gaming community. It covers some of our most innovative technologies designed to break down barriers for players with disabilities. This includes those with vision, hearing, speaking or cognitive conditions. Better yet, all this IP has been shared royalty-free, which means you won’t need to pay royalties or license fees to use it.