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News video games 27 July 2021, 20:39

author: Qskan

Blizzard Employees Outraged by Exec Response to Latest Lawsuit [UPDATED]

Former and current Activision Blizzard employees have written an open letter to the studio's management. In their opinion, the reaction of company's authorities to recent allegations of harassment and mobbing is „abhorrent”.

Update:

As Jason Schreier from Bloomberg reported, Blizzard employees are announcing that they will organize a strike tomorrow. The movement aims to draw attention to the issue of minorities (including women, black people, and transgender and non-binary people) at Activision Blizzard. The strike is to take place in front of Blizzard's headquarters in the city of Irvine, California.

The employees are demanding:

  1. That Activision ditch mandatory arbitration clauses “in all employee contracts, current and future.”
  2. New practices for recruiting, interviewing, hiring and promotion that facilitate better representation “agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization.”
  3. The publication of data on relative compensation, promotion rates and salary ranges for employees “of all genders and ethnicities at the company.”
  4. That a diversity task force be allowed to hire a third party to audit the company’s leadership, hierarchy and HR department. “It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment, and to propose new solutions to address these issues.”

Original message

The scandal surrounding the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard continues. More than 800 employees from across the company have signed an open letter, criticizing executives' handling of allegations of sexual harassment, mobbing and discrimination in certain offices. The signatories in the letter call the response from Blizzard management "insulting and abhorrent"..

One of the motivations for making the letter public was an email sent to employees by Frances Townsend - vice president of Activision. In the correspondence Townsend maintains the official position of the company, which denies that the situations described in the lawsuits took place, claiming that the stories it mentions are from a long time ago, moreover, taken out of context. The email, published by journalist Jason Schreier on Twitter, had angered many of the company's employees, resulting in the following letter, which we quote in full (via Kotaku):

"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 [Activision-Blizzard-King - en. note] 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."

As you may remember that the whole thing started on July 20, when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, claiming that the company had experienced incidents of harassment, mobbing, and discrimination based on gender and race over the years. The company's response was to deny all allegations, which was not received well both among players who organized a protest on World of Warcraft servers and among the developers; the atmosphere in the company became so bad that the work on the aforementioned WoW slowed down almost to a halt.

Additionally, some game stores and various gaming companies decided to stop working with Activision Blizzard by, among other things, no longer distributing Blizzard games.

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