Famous video game maker Electronic Arts (EA) has reportedly refused to join a flurry of other companies in issuing public statements in support of abortion and transgender rights, telling staff during a company-wide meeting this week that “being an inclusive company means being inclusive of all those points of view.”
According to gaming outlet Kotaku, EA’s chief people officer, Mala Singh, also told employees that the company has determined only to speak out if a public statement will “actually have a positive impact” and that such a stance has remained a “consistent perspective” for the company.
The May 24 town hall-style meeting reportedly featured wide-ranging discussions between executives and staff, including plans for upcoming games, corporate strategy, and pay raises. But many employees also used the time to call on the company to make public statements in support of abortion and transgender rights.
The political issues apparently were heavy on the minds of some, given recent political developments, including a leaked draft opinion indicating the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders to investigate youth sex-change procedures as child abuse.
But in response to the pressure, EA stood firm and essentially instructed staff to take action — by doing their jobs.
“The thing about the world today is there is a lot of division, we know this, right, we see it every single day, but the thing that unites us is that we’re all here to make amazing games and experiences for our players, and that is how we have the most positive impact on the world,” Singh said, according to a transcript of the meeting obtained by Kotaku.
She added: “These things are hard and they’re personal, and we all have our own perspectives, and sometimes we won’t speak, and that will be upsetting, and I understand that, we really do.”
In a subsequent statement, EA’s corporate communications director, Lacey Haines, reportedly told the outlet she could not provide further comment about the town hall since it is a “confidential forum.” But she insisted that EA works hard to “create an environment where our employees can talk about complex issues” through company meetings, Slack discussions, group dialogues, surveys, and more.
“From all of that,” she added, “We recognize these topics are deeply personal, and we know that there are many strong opinions, and some will be disappointed when we say that we’re not making public statements because we’re focused on the ways we can support our people around the world as their employer.”
Yet, while refusing to issue a public statement on the controversial topics, Haines noted that the company is working — though perhaps out of the public eye — to support employees affected by some of the developments. For example, she said the company is “making sure that people have access to the health care benefits we provide as a company, even if those aren’t available locally.” That likely means providing stipends for women to travel out of state to have abortions.
Additionally, in March, the company did join dozens of others to sponsor a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News denouncing Abbott’s “anti-LGBTQ+ efforts” in Texas.
That said, EA’s decision to refrain from taking a more public stance is commendable, and likely wise — especially as many other businesses, such as Disney, rush to the public sphere to declare their stances on controversial matters, perhaps to their detriment.