Blizzard starts drive to recruit more women and ethnic minorities

World of Warcraft

The company behind games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch has started a drive to recruit more women and ethnic minorities.

The information is in a leaked internal email from Blizzard's CEO, seen by the website Kotaku.

It claims 21% of Blizzard's employees are women, and although that's similar to the rest of the gaming industry, it says it wants to do better.

Newsbeat has contacted the firm, but they're yet to respond.

Overwatch characters
Image caption Overwatch is becoming one of the most popular eSports in the world

The company claims the initiative will focus on finding more female employees and getting them to stay on longer.

At the moment women are leaving at a higher rate than men but it says it'll fall short of setting "quotas".

Instead it plans to partner with organisations like Girls Who Code, set up networking sessions and launch an annual "Women @Blizzard" summit.

It's also set up a council of female workers which will help the company's leaders "make Blizzard a more rewarding and enjoyable place for women to work".

Later on the project plans to expand to other "under-represented minority groups", which it claims make up 14% of the business.

A gaming convention

The gaming industry has faced accusations of sexism and racism for some time.

Last year Blizzard said it was working on technology to block offensive comments on sites like Twitch.

It was after a black Hearthstone player, Terrence Miller, was the subject of racist abuse during a tournament in Austin, Texas.

The developer was also forced to remove an "over-the-shoulder" victory pose from its game Overwatch, after criticism that it accentuated anything but the shoulder.

Overwatch

Last September, two of the biggest streaming sites - Twitch and YouTube - told Newsbeat they were doing what they could to stamp out misogyny.

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