EA staff have called off threats of a potential walkout over what they perceived as the company’s lack of LGBTQIA+ support during Pride Month after higher-ups promised to avoid using rainbow logos as a marketing ploy.
The threat of a walkout was first leveled against EA after employees felt that the company’s recent blogpost voicing support for LGBTQIA+ individuals was nothing more than self-flagellation and empty promises.
Inviting fans “to invite you to look back with us and EA Pride, our LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group (ERG), on where we’ve been, where we are, and what we still need to do,” EA opened their post by noting their many accomplishments in the area of LGBTQIA+ support.
Specific efforts highlighted include EA’s cration of their”Positive Play Charter, which includes our pledge to specifically stand against any harassment of players on our platforms for their gender identity/expression, and sexual orientation,” their signing of the “the Texas Competes Pledge, in support of transgender athletes,” and introducing similar content across “several of our games” such as Apex Legends and The Sims.
Further, the company noted that “for the 13th consecutive year, EA was named one of the Human Rights Campaign’s Best Places to Work for LGBTQIA+ Equality. ”
However, despite their efforts, EA’s statement soon generated internal outrage.
According to an internal EA Slack chat viewed allegedly viewed by GamesIndustry.biz, the perceived hollow feeling of EA’s post led a nunber of staff to threatened a walkout if the company didn’t back up their words with action.
“If we see the company rainbow-wash their logo without making any substantive statement in support of trans people being abused nationwide in the US and elsewhere, especially after stating that the company doesn’t want to make any statement not supported by the diverse viewpoints of our 13,000 employees, we collectively walk out on Friday, June 3rd,” reportedly wrote one staff member, referencing EA’s recent decision to abstain from taking a side in the current Roe v. Wade debate unless they could represent a “consistent perspective” across their entire employee base.
“Just slapping a rainbow on our logo in June without any broader action will be unacceptable,” they concluded.
As noted by GamesIndustry.biz, soon after the threat of a walkout was leveled by employees, an email was sent to EA’s social teams reassuring staff that the company’s efforts would be of substance.
“As most of you know, when June 1 arrives, many companies lean into the Pride celebration — oftentimes with limited effort beyond rainbow washing their social account profiles,” the internal email supposedly began. “As we head into the month, we want to ensure our efforts to celebrate pride are meaningful.”
The email concluded with a further promise that “more” regarding EA’s internal Pride plans “will be shared this week.”
Guidelines were also given to “EA Leaders” and subsidiary studios regarding what public posts were allowed during Pride month.
The guidelines reportedly told them their posts “may not be political in nature,” and preferably should be reviewed by EA’s corporation communications team before being published.
The email also saw EA “strongly recommend” employees engage in “activities that go beyond verbalising support for Pride,” such as sharing in-game activities, guiding players to Pride resources, and regularly espousing EA’s history of Pride support.
Further, an FAQ included in the company message gave employees permission to tweet and retweet posts supporting LGBTQIA+ rights “providing it is authentic to your community and the brand.”
Unsurprisingly, EA’s message seemingly only served to make matters worse, as one EA staff member speaking under the condition of anonymity told GamesIndustry that the preceding events and timing made the message feel “very hectic and haphazardly put together in an attempt to prevent the walkout.”
Though the walkout seemed all but imminent, an EA employee later informed GamesIndustry.biz that the event had been called off, reportedly due to EA leadership promising not to use a rainbow flag variant of its corporate logos for Pride month.
Ultimately, just mere days after publishing their first blogpost, EA released another pro-LGBTQIA+ statement.
Taken from the company’s “weekly communications update to all employees”, the statement saw the company’s Chief People Officer Mala Singh attempt to assure staff that “Our support is unwavering for our people, our players, and our LGBTQ+ communities.”
“In my comments last week, I never intended to imply that we were stepping back from our long-standing support of LGBTQ+ rights, but I understand that’s how it landed for members of this community,” Singh admitted. “I am grateful for the openness and courage to engage, and I am also hopeful that we can keep our conversations productive and healthy. They make us better.”
“I want to acknowledge the pain and fear that our LGBTQ+, specifically our Transgender community, is experiencing in light of emerging legislation in the US and the ongoing attacks on their human rights,” she continued.
“We will continue to strive for a safe and supportive workplace, and as a leadership team, we want to be clear about what we stand for,” said Singh. “As a company, we are united that Trans Rights are Human Rights. Women’s Rights are Human Rights. Our support is unwavering for our people, our players, and our LGBTQ+ communities.”
“We will continue to focus and direct our collective energy in the areas of promoting equality through the stories and characters in our games, in creating a safe and inclusive workplace at EA, and in ensuring health care access if care isn’t available locally,” she then explained. “We recognize that the landscape continuously evolves, and we will continue to assess how we support the needs of these communities.”
Singh concluded her message by announcing that EA would be taking a number of steps in support of Pride month, including offering a 2:1 match for donations made to the ACLU, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Out and Equal in June and “hosting a discussion with Kevin Jennings, CEO of Lambda Legal, to discuss the evolving legislative landscape and how we all can engage for positive change.”
What do you make of the battle between EA and its employees regarding the company’s Pride month efforts? Let us know on social media and in the comments below.