Pledge Partner Case Study - Xbox

By Dave McCarthy, Corporate Vice President for Xbox Operations on 27/01/2020

RaiseTheGame is all about collaboration and learning from each other - our pledge partner case studies show how other games businesses are improving diversity and inclusion in their businesses.

Here's how one of our Founding Pledge Partners, Xbox, are approaching the three pledge pillars:

At Microsoft, we believe in the transformative power of diversity and inclusion. Only by actively engaging different perspectives can we challenge and stretch our thinking, enrich the experiences of our employees, and empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Diversity & Inclusion is vital to creativity. Microsoft believes that to have a vibrant portfolio of games and to keep the gaming industry evolving, we need diversity of perspectives and inclusion of ideas amongst the people making and supporting games around the world. To that end, we continue to strive for increased representation across all identities of diversity, because quite simply, this will lead to better games, better experiences and a better community.

Beyond our employees, we are committed to making gaming a positive and inclusive form of entertainment and learning. This includes breaking down stereotypes of gaming characters across society, through to providing tools for safety and security such as family settings and accessibility features across our devices, services and titles so gamers can personalize their gaming experience.

Diversity and inclusion are imperative at Microsoft and within the Xbox organization because we believe that when everyone plays, we all win. Gaming For Everyone is our ongoing focus to bringing intentional, inclusive practices and thinking to everything we do at Xbox.

To create higher levels of diversity and inclusion across the gaming industry, we all have a part to play. Whether in attracting and nurturing more diverse talent into the industry, designing more inclusive gaming experiences to break down societal norms, or enabling a greater use of inclusive design across our devices, enabling greater levels of accessibility for all. By committing to this pledge, Microsoft wants to demonstrate its part in influencing this important industry through collaboration and knowledge sharing across the industry.

Pledge Pillar 1 - Diverse Talent - Attract more diverse talent to join the games industry

At Microsoft, we believe we have a responsibility to educate, attract and inspire diverse talent into an education into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in school, colleges, apprenticeships and universities. By breaking down the barriers to entry into technology, we will help address skills shortages in the coming years. In addition to focusing on pipeline, we look outside of our traditional recruitment practices to become more expansive in our sources and more inclusive in our processes. Great talent is everywhere. We have introduced inclusive job descriptions, diverse slates, inclusive interview practices, and most importantly, taking the time to ensure we find and “screen in” the best talent. At its core, “screening in” reflects our desire to bring in talented people who enrich the diversity of our workforce and catalyse innovation in the gaming industry. We will continue to hire exceptional people, viewing talent through a wider aperture before making hiring decisions, while ensuring the process is fully inclusive for everyone.

At Xbox, we know that to ensure we have diversity in our innovation, we need to have diversity of our people to truly define the next wave of technology that will reach the more than 2 billion gamers worldwide!

Pledge Pillar 2 - Inclusivity - Create an inclusive culture where all can thrive

Equally important to recruiting more diverse talent is our ability to retain them. We know that people go where they are invited, but they stay where they are welcomed. At Microsoft, we want employees to come as they are, and do what they love. As Phil Spencer mentioned in a May 2019 open letter, Xbox is committed to inclusivity in all corners of the gaming arena. We offer various channels that empower employees to connect with each other, with products and experiences in development and with leaders at Xbox. For example, we are driving an Xbox Allies program to build the allyship muscle for all employees, in a recognition that we ALL can be an ally in different situations. Our Gaming for Everyone Communities aim to strengthen employee development and retention by providing a platform for employees to connect with each other through gaming sessions and bi-weekly Live Chats. The Gaming for Everyone Feedback Crew was created to ensure a diverse set of voices are heard throughout the development cycle of new products and experiences. Additionally, Phil Spencer’s Monthly Q&A sessions and community specific roundtables are an opportunity to discuss issues of diversity and inclusion alongside conversations about business strategy.

Pledge Pillar 3 - Diverse Content - Reflect greater diversity in our work

At Xbox, we believe that gaming has the unique ability to bring people together or experience something else in someone else’s shoes. That is why we strive to create content that is as diverse as our global community. Educators in more than 115 countries are using Minecraft: Education Edition across the curriculum to promote creativity, collaboration and problem-solving in an immersive digital experience. Recently, we unveiled “Tell Me Why” from Xbox Game Studios which features the first transgender playable video game hero from a major studio and publisher; the blockbuster “Gears 5” features 19 different Pride flags in multiplayer mode; “Sea of Thieves” provides countless ways for gamers to customize their characters and play style; and The Insight Project is an innovative R&D project from UK studio Ninja Theory combining technology, game design and clinical neuroscience with the aim of developing strategies to encourage mental wellbeing and alleviate mental ill health . In addition, Xbox Game Pass features a library of more than 100 games from genres including action & adventure, family-friendly, retro & classic, sports & racing games and more to fit every gamer’s interests. Last year we launched the Xbox Adaptive Controller, designed primarily to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility, to help make gaming more accessible.