Over 2,000 current and former Activision Blizzard employees have signed a letter to the company’s management demanding meaningful change at the company after allegations of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination were made in a lawsuit against the company.
The letter also calls out Activision Blizzard’s initial, often dismissive responses to the lawsuit by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. While Blizzard President J. Allen Brack called the allegations “extremely troubling” and saying that “I disdain ‘bro culture’ and have spent my career fighting against it” in an internal email, a video quickly emerged from a Blizzcon 2010 panel where he was amongst a group of senior developers laughing at the idea of making Blizzard’s women characters less hypersexualized.
UppercutCrit has also reported that Activision COO Joshua Taub held an “all-hands” meeting with 500 staff that encouraged the handling of these issues to remain internal (which has obviously worked so well up until this point if there’s grounds for a lawsuit), while Chief Compliance Officer Frances Townsend sent a memo calling the lawsuit “distorted and untrue”.
Kotaku was sent a copy of the letter, which called the company’s response thus far “abhorrent and insulting,” with a portion of the letter below:
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.