Activision Blizzard Employees Urge Leadership For Change – “We Will Not Be Silenced”
After serious accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination hit Activision Blizzard this past week, employees are now calling for real change to happen within the company. As reported by Game Informer, hundreds of workers at the joint-publisher – since exceeding 2,000 (via CNN) – have signed an open letter urging leaders to take action, responding to the public legal proceedings as well as the “troubling” responses of company figures thus far. The full letter is as follows:
To the Leaders of Activision Blizzard,
We, the undersigned, agree that the statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.
We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry. Categorizing the claims that have been made as “distorted, and in many cases false” creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.
Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action — and the troubling official responses that followed — we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit” while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse is simply unacceptable.
We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees — as well as our community — have a safe place to speak out and come forward.
We stand with all our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community who have experienced mistreatment or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.
Reports of wrongdoing were revealed over the last few days as a lawsuit was formally levied against Activision Blizzard, alleging a “frat-boy culture” present at the World of Warcraft developer. The multi-year investigation laid claims of sexist and racist behavior from members of the company, including shocking allegations of sexual assault and “constant” harassment of female employees, especially involving women of color and even pregnant women.
The lawsuit mentions the human resources department at Activision Blizzard allegedly knew full well of this work environment and often ignored or discouraged requests for help. Reporting to HR is claimed to have been “subjected to retaliation,” which allegedly ranged from female employees “being deprived of work on projects, unwillingly transferred to different units, and selected for layoffs.” The suit also alleges a significant pay gap for females when compared to similar positions held by male counterparts.
The following days have seen mixed responses arrive from current and former Activision Blizzard figures. Internal responses from executives have notably ranged from Blizzard president J. Allen Brack decrying the “extremely troubling” allegations and offering to meet with affected employees, to Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs Frances Townsend denying the validity of the lawsuit altogether. Frequently overpaid Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has yet to offer his own response.
Activision Blizzard executive Fran Townsend, who was the Homeland Security Advisor to George W. Bush from 2004-2007 and joined Activision in March, sent out a very different kind of email that has some Blizzard employees fuming. pic.twitter.com/BxGeMTuRYF
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) July 23, 2021
Blizzard Co-founder and ex-CEO Mike Morhaime also addressed the claims in a recent statement, expressing he was “ashamed” that such “toxicity” formed under his watch and offering his influence to “help drive positive change and to combat misogyny, discrimination, and harassment” wherever possible. “It is the responsibility of leadership to stamp out toxicity and harassment in any form, across all levels of the company,” he said. “To the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you.”
What do you think? Are you encouraged Activision Blizzard will enact real changes to its workplace and leadership, or do you feel it might take something even more to convince the company’s decision-makers? Discuss in the comments below and follow Don’t Feed the Gamers on Twitter and Facebook to be informed of future gaming and entertainment news.
Eric Hall2476 Posts
Phone-browsing Wikipedia in one hand and clutching his trusty controller in the other, the legendary Eric Hall spreads his wealth of knowledge as a writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. Be sure to catch his "Throwback Thursday" segment for a nostalgic look at trivia from the past.