Activision Blizzard employees will be holding a one day walk out tomorrow and are calling on their leadership teams to adopt new policies to “empower a company-wide diversity, equity, & inclusion”. The event, named the Activision Blizzard Walkout for Equality, will run from 9am to 6pm PT, but the organisers have recognised that some lower paid employees may not be able to afford the unpaid day off work.
“We are encouraging employees to take whatever time off they feel safe to do,” an employee representative told Kotaku. “Most of us plan to take the full day off (without pay), but we understand some people like contractors and associates, and those who are paid less than they deserve, might not have the ability to do so.”
They have also issued a Statement of Intent, which you can read below.
Statement of Intent
Given last week’s statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, and the many stories shared by current and former employees of Activision Blizzard since, we believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.
As current Activision Blizzard employees, we are holding a walkout to call on the executive leadership team to work with us on the following demands, in order to improve conditions for employees at the company, especially women, and in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.
1. An end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, current and future. Arbitration clauses protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution.
2. The adoption of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies designed to improve representation among employees at all levels, agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization. Current practices have led to women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination not being hired fairly for new roles when compared to men.
3. Publication of data on relative compensation (including equity grants and profit sharing), promotion rates, and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company. Current practices have led to aforementioned groups not being paid or promoted fairly.
4. Empower a company-wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit ABK’s reporting structure, HR department, and executive staff. It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment, and to propose new solutions to address these issues.
The strike follows a letter signed by over 2,000 current and former Activision Blizzard employees which demand meaningful change at the company after allegations of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination.
The Warcraft team have also issued a statement which reveals they will be removing “inappropriate references” from the game. While they have not specified exactly what this means it is assumed that the characters and items named after Alex Afrasiabi, an ex-creative director on World of Warcraft, will be changed.
Afrasiabi was specifically named in the lawsuit.
During a company event (an annual convention called Blizz Con) Afrasiabi would hit on female employees, telling them he wanted to marry them, attempting to kiss them, and putting his arms around them. This was in plain view of other male employees, including supervisors, who had to intervene and pull him off female employees. Afrasiabi was so known to engage in harassment of females that his suite was nicknamed the “Crosby Suite” after alleged rapist Bill Crosby.
Afrasiabi would also call females derogatory names at company events. Afrasiabi’s conduct was known to Blizzard Entertainment’s executives, who took no effective remedial measures. J. Allen Brack, President of Blizzard Entertainment, allegedly had multiple conversations with Afrasiabi about his drinking and that he had been “too friendly” towards female employees at company events but gave Afiasiabi a slap on the wrist (ie. verbal counseling) in response to these incidents.