EA Reveals Why It Won’t Speak Up for Abortion Rights

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Electronic Arts will not join other major game studios in publicly support abortion and transgender rights, Kotaku has learned. Asked about it at a company general meeting on May 24, the game publisher told staff it couldn’t take a stand on every public issue and that “being an inclusive company means being inclusive. from all these points of view.

The remarks were made during a meeting with company management to discuss topics including EA’s upcoming games, corporate strategy, salary increases and other issues that employees are concerned about. Following the news that the The Supreme Court is preparing to overturn landmark 1973 abortion decision Roe vs. Wade, one of the topics was the right to abortion. Another is trans rights, with Texas recently commissioning gender-affirming health care for minors. be investigated as “child abuse.”

According to a source close to EA Town Hall yesterday, many employees called on the company to make public statements in support of both abortion and trans rights. Human resources director Mala Singh replied that the company only speaks out when it will “really have a positive impact” and that this is a “consistent prospect” among the 13,000 employees of the worldwide, based on a transcript of the meeting verified by Kotaku.

“The thing about the world today is there’s a lot of division, we know that, we see it every day, but what unites us is that we’re all here to make games. and amazing experiences for our players, and that’s how we have the most positive impact on the world,” Singh said. “These things are tough and they’re personal and we all have our own perspectives and sometimes we won’t talk, and it will be upsetting and I get that, we really do.”

Following the news Roe v. Wade, some companies, like Microsoft, announced plans to help pay for out-of-state travel in the event abortion becomes illegal where an employee lives. EA has confirmed Kotaku that he is working his way to provide these benefits through his existing health care provider. “We will have a benefits update to share with you soon, and please know that we are monitoring any new developments that may impact our employees,” Singh told staff on May 13, according to the publisher.

“We are not going to comment further on the Global Town Hall, as it is a confidential corporate forum,” said Lacey Haines, director of corporate communications. Kotaku in an emailed statement. He continued:

That said, we strive to create an environment where our employees can talk about complex issues in our world today. We do this in many ways, from town halls to Slack chats, group chats, polls, and more. From all of this, we recognize that these topics are deeply personal, and we know that there are many strong opinions, and some will be disappointed if we say we don’t make public statements because we focus on the ways in which we can support our employees around the world as their employer. This is what we do, in this case, by ensuring that people have access to the health care benefits that we provide as a company, even if these are not available locally.

These last weeks, Destiny 2 maker Bungie and Infinite Halo Certain Affinity co-developers have issued statements condemning attacks on reproductive health and transgender rights. But other companies have been much more cautious in stepping in.

In a bizarre May 12 email first reported by BloombergPlayStation boss Jim Ryan mixed facts about cats with calls for staff to respect “differences of opinion” on the issue. A few days later, The Washington Post reported that Sony would match a $50,000 donation in Spider Man studio Insomniac Games to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP), but asked Insomniac and its staff to keep quiet about it. Kotaku understands that some EA employees feel equally frustrated and beleaguered by the company’s silence.

Once a source of dissonance for a number of game industry developers was its response to the Black Lives Matters protests following the 2020 murder of George Floyd. Dozens of studios and publishers, including EA, released statements saying they support the movement and calling for an end to systemic racism. EA in particular has donated $1 million to racial justice organizations.

Some staff feel that EA supports diversity and inclusiveness when it comes to good public relations, but doesn’t want to take a stand when the issues are more controversial. However, the publisher joined Gearbox Entertainment and others in sponsoring a full-page advertisement. in the Dallas Morning News denouncing Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s “anti-LGBTQ+ efforts” in the state. However, it doesn’t appear that EA ever posted the announcement on its social media. A week later it was Tweeter a statement calling for an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

When asked if he promoted his advocacy for transgender rights, EA pointed out Kotaku to the following statement attributed to an EA spokesperson:

We are committed to building a culture of inclusion for our employees, our players and our community. We are proud to join the Human Rights Campaign, along with other business actors, to oppose discriminatory laws and policies introduced in Texas, Florida and other states across the country.

But the continuing wave of rabid headlines doesn’t stop, as the US passes the one million covid death mark and sees a mass hate crime in Buffalo, NY followed by a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas– the deadliest since Sandy Hook in 2012.

Instead of public statements, Singh instead encouraged developers to use an EA perk: “healing circles.”

“I know these are tough issues, whether it’s the recent shootings in the United States, the Roe vs. Wade problems, these are difficult,” Singh said. “And so one of the other things you’re going to see is we’re going to make more healing circles available through modern health.”

It’s unclear exactly what healing circles are or how they work, but Singh called on staff to “join and process” the events unfolding with each other and praised the strength of the community within EA.

“But know that whenever one of these things comes up, we put a lot of care and thought into it, and consider multiple points of view, and then decide what’s in the best interests of EA and the various gaming communities. stakeholders we have, including our employees, players, fans and stakeholders, [and] our shareholders.

Updated 05/25/2022 5:40 PM ET: This article has been updated with comments from an EA spokesperson.

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