EA and Zynga Talk About Opposition to Defense of Marriage Act

October 15, 2012 -

In a lengthy interview with GamesIndustry International, executives from Zynga and Electronic Arts talk about how publicly opposing the Defense of Marriage Act has impacted their businesses. Earlier this year Chick-Fil-A came out publicly to say that it supported traditional marriage between a man and a woman. This set off a firestorm of protests and boycotts for the restaurant chain. In response to this stance and for their own reasons, companies such as Electronic Arts and Zynga decided to sign on to an amicus brief opposing the Defense of Marriage Act. In case you are not familiar with the law, it legally defines marriage between one man and one woman.

Interestingly EA's and Zynga's opposition to DOMA has yielded no backlash from "investors, from the press, or internally."

"We're very vocal about our position, and people ultimately have an option to invest in the company or not," Zynga's Reggie Davis told GII.

Electronic Arts head of global diversity and inclusion Ginger Maseda said that the positive comments "far outweigh" any negative comments the company has received about DOMA.

"There have been no questions, comments or concerns raised from our investors with regards to support for LGBT initiatives in the community or having LGBT characters in our games," Maseda said. "Essentially, it's been a non-issue from an investor perspective."

Davis went on to call the fight for LGBT equality "the civil rights issue of our time."

"There are 13, 14, 15-year-old boys and girls committing suicide throughout a lot of the country because they can't come to grips in their community with being who they are," Davis said. "And to me, it just takes the whole debate around 'some people don't agree with it,' or 'you're a public company; should you not do this because of your full representation to your shareholders?' We're very vocal about our position, and people ultimately have an option to invest in the company or not. As long as there's good disclosure around what your commitments are at the company, then people can make informed decisions as to whether they want to invest in you or not."

Maseda stressed that EA is trying to be all-inclusive in all things they do and "part of inclusion is making everybody feel heard and that they have a voice," she added. "As a publicly traded company, I think it's important to listen to our consumers. Whether we believe it's right or wrong, it's all incorporated into what we do."

"As a publicly traded company, I think it's important to listen to our consumers," added Maseda. "Whether we believe it's right or wrong, it's all incorporated into what we do."

You can read the rest here. There's also an excellent comment from a Jagex executive about the subject in the comments section of the article.

Source: GII


Comments

Re: EA and Zynga Talk About Opposition to Defense of ...

My fiance and I were out doing some shopping saturday, when we saw a street corner full of asshats waving signs to vote reject on Referendum 74 (Washington state, we passed a gay marriage law, but enough signatures were gathered to force it to go to a referendum vote to approve or reject the law as it was passed).  I gave them the old thumbs-down.  My fiance opted for the bird.  Love that gal...  :)

Re: EA and Zynga Talk About Opposition to Defense of ...

A large major international company talks a stand on a very controversial political issue of our time and receives... ""Zero," was how Zynga general counsel Reggie Davis described the blowback to the company's anti-DOMA stance."...  ???

Either they've conducted a very NAZI like purge of people with dissenting political views or EA is lying is what I take from it. This being EA I suspect the latter (they're not exactly known for frank honesty with the public) and I wonder what is really happening.

Re: EA and Zynga Talk About Opposition to Defense of ...

Well, he did say "Not a peep from investors, from the press, or internally" - the press has a liberal bias (apparently), so they're unlikely to write an article on how horrible it is that you support gay rights, investors only seem likely to care if there's word of a customer boycott, and employees, while they may disagree, seem unlikely to feel unwelcome because you're being tolerant of certain groups (and in Zynga, are probably too busy focusing on how to clone games without getting sued :P). Also, keep in mind that's what the Zynga representative says - the EA representative said 'positive comments "far outweigh" negative comments across the board', and that investors hadn't asked any questions about their stance.

Re: EA and Zynga Talk About Opposition to Defense of ...

The media bias is a bit more pathetic than just being liberal - if you look at political reporting on the elections, they look pretty conservative this year, but they looked reasonably moderate to slightly liberal in 2008 and hardcore liberal in 2004. Basically, the media can feel free to bash a sitting official all they want, because they aren't going anywhere for a pre determined period of time, they're beholden to the media for their press conferences and such, and they're rarely doing the interview rounds so you can't really run them away. But a candidate is different - you can only bash them as far as they'll let you before they cut you off the interview schedule and put you behind the game, and some do this at the first hint of any questioning, no matter how benign.

As for corporate media, that's even more pathetic. Until EA starts serving fresh cut baby in the cafeteria, their advertising dollars are enough to buy off most criticism. That's why they can throw hissy fits over 8.5 reviews and get their way.

And investors are generally one of the most amoral groups of people you can ask for. Even if EA was feeding babies to their employees, most major investors won't back out if it isn't hurting their return. They didn't dump BP stock because of the oil spill or because of all the violations that came to light in the investigation. They dumped it because they expected much higher penalties to be levied that would sharply reduce the value of their investment.

Employees are the only ones that might care and be willing to say so. And if you look at marriage equality support charts, the age groups involved favor it more strongly than the population as a whole. Even if that wasn't the case, if you happen to be a manager you can stage something similar at work. Come in day 1 and bandy about the most hardcore conservative talking points you can find, and count the replies you get disagreeing with you. Wait a month, and repeat with liberal talking points. You will get approximately zero dissent from potentially replaceable employees (and game developers are not hard to replace).

Re: EA and Zynga Talk About Opposition to Defense of ...

As much crap as I give EA and Zynga, good on ya both in this instance folks!

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: EA and Zynga Talk About Opposition to Defense of ...

Agreed completely. Both companies take a large amount of flak from me too but in this facet they are doing the world some good. More companies need to do things like this that are positive changes for the world.

 
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