Twitch is making strides toward a diverse and inclusive community, and demonstrating it through recent hiring decisions.
Twitch has announced three new executives joining the streaming platform’s corporate team: chief financial officer Michelle Weaver, chief human resources officer Sudarshana Rangachary, and Katrina Jones, who will serve as the company’s first ever head of diversity and inclusion.
“I’m thrilled to welcome these new executives to Twitch,” said Twitch chief operating officer Sara Clemens. “Their collective expertise scaling global businesses and building engaged, high-performing teams will help ensure we can continue to deliver the best experience in multiplayer entertainment to our growing, global community.”
Weaver is bringing 25 years of experience at vital companies including Stitch Fix, Gap, Inc., and Electronic Arts to her new role as CFO. Rangachary has over 20 years of experience, and was most recently the vice president of human resources for Gap, Inc. before accepting her new role with Twitch. Jones has over 10 years of experience in human resources and inclusion and diversity, and was previously served in related roles for Vimeo and Accenture.
“While we already have people on staff who have helped drive diversity initiatives, such as campaigns around Pride Month, Women’s History Month, African-American History Month, and even our own TwitchUnity (a site-wide holiday celebrating the diversity of the Twitch community), Katrina will bring a new level of expertise and focus to optimizing all that Twitch can do for the community,” a Twitch representative told GameDaily. “Twitch has always been dedicated to fostering a positive, inclusive experience that celebrates and elevates all voices. As our company has continued to grow, we started looking for someone with Katrina’s depth of experience to be dedicated full time to our diversity and inclusivity efforts with our people and our broader Twitch community.”
Creating a more inclusive environment is a primary concern for the gaming industry right now. Last month, Riot Games came under scrutiny for its treatment of female employees after Kotaku published the first in a series of investigative reports. Accounts of misogynist statements, sexual harassment, and women continuously being denied opportunities for promotion surfaced.
In the wake of these problems, Riot announced yesterday the hiring of Frances Frei to aid in repairing the company’s toxic workplace culture. Frei, a Harvard Business School professor, most recently stepped in at Uber to help fix the company’s diversity and inclusiveness problems.
Twitch is no stranger to these issues. The platform’s most popular streamer and partner, Ninja, stated that he won’t stream with women due to concerns that it could cause issues for his marriage. While opinions on this statement varied, it is hard to deny that a Twitch partner with over 11 million followers stating that he won’t stream with women sends a message— even if unintended.
Twitch streamers of underrepresented groups also experience harassment and discrimination from the community. Recently, Polygon reported on some of the issues female streamers experience through streaming on Twitch, such as getting called derogatory names like “Twitch thots” and even getting harassed or even doxxed.
“There is no community that is not impacted by these issues on some level, so our focus on ensuring ways to embrace inclusivity and diversity are always top of mind,” a Twitch representative says. “Although Twitch has regularly supported related initiatives, as we continue to scale, it made sense to hire someone with a deep background in the space. This will ensure we are effectively iterating on our core brand value of being welcoming to everyone."