Some employees at Wizards of the Coast, publisher of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering, say they are disappointed with Hasbro’s owner’s response to Friday’s Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, calling it “lackluster” and asking the company to reconsider its stance.
Several game companies have expressed support for the right to choose, some of them saying they are expanding insurance coverage to support workers who must travel to have an abortion. Since Friday, game studios such as Bethesda Softworks, Insomniac Games and Electronic Arts have issued public statements in support of reproductive rights. Others, such as Grand Theft Auto’s publisher Take-Two Interactive, declined to comment on the decision. Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast also declined to comment publicly on social media; instead, Hasbro CEO Chris Cox and HR director Najuma Atkinson sent a statement to staff on Monday.
In it, Hasbro executives wrote that the company has a “long history” of access to medical services, “including reproductive health and other essential media services, no matter where you live in the United States.” It also mentions “new enhanced travel benefits” but doesn’t explain it. Cox and Atkinson also pointed out the company’s mental health benefits to workers, including the Headspace app.
However, Wizards of the Coast staff are upset that some of the language avoids disavowing the Supreme Court’s decision and urges staff to respect both sides.
“We know there are many perspectives on what is at stake with the Supreme Court’s dismissal of Roe v. Wade, announced last week,” Cox and Atkinson wrote. “It is important that we continue to respect the views of all employees in the workplace.”
They continued, “Let’s continue to prioritize and develop inclusion at Hasbro. Regardless of your individual views, now is the time to show understanding, empathy and kindness to each other.”
A full copy of the internal memo for employees is below:
We strive to create an inclusive work environment where our colleagues feel welcome, respected and represented.
We are also committed to and have a long history of providing comprehensive healthcare services to our colleagues. We reaffirm our commitment to providing continued and equal access to health care, including reproductive health and other essential health care, no matter where you live in the United States. This applies to you, your spouse or cohabitant, and any dependents, and applies to the new extended travel benefits. We will continue to do our best to keep decisions about your personal health care strictly confidential. If you have concerns or questions about the situation and available resources, we encourage you to speak with your HR business partner.
We know this can be a difficult time for many of you, and we want to remind everyone that we offer several mental health resources, including counseling and virtual therapy options, which can be found here. The health, well-being and safety of all our colleagues is of paramount importance to us.
Let’s continue to prioritize and build inclusion at Hasbro. Regardless of your individual views, this is a time to show understanding, empathy and kindness to each other.
Speaking to Polygon on condition of anonymity, several Wizards of the Coast employees said the statements legitimize anti-abortion views that are dangerous to people. “This call has angered many staff members, including myself, who believe it legitimizes those who seek to deprive marginalized groups of their rights and defiantly ignores the deadly reproductive health implications of this Supreme Court decision,” one staff member told Polygon “.
Another current employee at Wizards of the Coast said that while the letter was “harmless,” some workers are upset by “lackluster” or inadequate health care. “Depending on these things without actually providing new resources or better resources is really not enough for a lot of people,” the employee said.
On Monday night, the Wizards for Justice Twitter account, which identified itself as a group of Wizards of the Coast employees, released a statement condemning Hasbro’s internal statement. Polygon was unable to verify the identity of the Twitter account or the number of employees involved. At least 13 current Wizards of the Coast employees that Polygon spoke to across the company said they were not aware of the statement or potential strike before it was released. However, some of these workers have stated that they support the intent of Wizards for Justice. Some noted that Wizards of the Coast mostly works remotely and staff members were hesitant to communicate using Hasbro’s Microsoft Teams accounts to talk about the Twitter account and its message.
As employees of Wizards of the Coast, we are frustrated, disappointed, and completely dissatisfied with Hasbro’s out-of-touch, dull, lackluster response to Friday’s Supreme Court decision to dismiss Roe v. Wade. (1/11)#wotcstaff https://t.co/6pUSHKszpa
— Wizards for Justice (@WizardsJustice) June 28, 2022
In a letter posted on TwitterThe group said some workers are “disappointed, frustrated and completely dissatisfied” with Hasbro’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision.
“Any messages that suggest or imply that there are other, valid opinions and approaches to this further marginalization of already at risk groups with regard to their bodily autonomy are unnecessary, invalid and harmful,” Wizards for Justice wrote. “Such messaging is only about protecting and validating those who seek to control and is the wrong direction for any organization with a diverse customer base like ours.”
The Wizards of Justice account urged Wizards of the Coast employees to walk away from work on Wednesday to “think, promote mental health and show solidarity, which Hasbro will not do.”
A Wizards of the Coast employee said they and their team plan to log out on Wednesday to support, but aren’t sure if others will do the same. Neither Hasbro nor Wizards of the Coast responded to Polygon’s request for comment.
Cultural influence Magic: Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons are not to be underestimated; both games have influenced game creation for decades and are played by tens of millions of players. Wizards of the Coast was also a huge source of income for Hasbro, who acquired the company in 1999. The success of its established brands helped the Rhode Island-based company surpass $1 billion in revenue in 2021, with the Wizards business unit accounting for 72% of Hasbro’s operating profit for the year. Building on this success, the company also has an animated series and a major film this year.
Hasbro itself has three main subsidiaries: Consumer Products, Entertainment, and Wizards & Digital. It is estimated that the company employs 5,000 people. Wizards of the Coast is based in Washington state, but has offices throughout the country, including Texas, one of the many states that currently ban abortion.
Over the past few years, social media has become an increasingly common tool for workers to come together and voice grievances to their employers. Social media accounts from employees of Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, Riot Games, Cards Against Humanity and others have emerged as a way to collectively express their opinions about their work. Acting as a collective voice, these social media accounts give workers the opportunity to speak anonymously about their struggles. This anonymity also makes it harder to authenticate an account or understand the scope of a move, but some workers often feel that this is the best or only option for publicly discussing workplace-related issues.
Activision Blizzard’s Quality Assurance staff at Raven Software took advantage of the momentum of their social media work to rally support for their eventual alliance, which was certified last month.
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