Activision Blizzard Employees Walk Out After Allegations of Rampant Sexism

Activision Blizzard employees staged a walkout today. This was the culmination of a week of tension about how executives handled allegations of harassment and discrimination at the company of 10,000 people.Employees held signs outside Activision Blizzards Irvine office Wednesday morning with messages such as Believe Women, Commit to Equality, nerf male privelege and Fight Bad Guys in Game / Fight Bad Guys IRL. Cars drove by honking the horns. The hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout became a trending topic online as Overwatch and World of Warcraft fans pledged to boycott their games in solidarity.Based on photographs posted online, the event attracted more than 200 participants. Unknown number of employees also participated remotely in the workstoppage.One Activision employee said that she loves her job, but that her jobs don't love her back. This was before the walkout. It hurts. We tried to change it.Activision Blizzard's response to a frenzied lawsuit filed last week by Californias Department of Fair Employment and Housing was a key factor in today's walkout. The suit claims rampant workplace inequality. It includes unequal pay for comparable work and a leadership culture that allowed sexual harassment, as well as retaliation against women who spoke out.Activision Blizzard responded by releasing a statement stating that it values diversity but also criticizing DFEH's two-year investigation for irresponsible behavior by unaccountable State bureaucrats. This is what drove many of California's best businesses out of California. A letter she wrote to her staff last week, obtained from Axios, described the suit's meritlessness and irresponsibility, and the allegations in it as "extremely troubling." In another email, Bloomberg obtained, J. Allen Brack, the company president, was named in the suit.Photograph: Alex Welsh Photograph: Alex WelshEmployees, especially those who have experienced sexual harassment or discrimination at the company, were frustrated to hear what they perceived as unmisleading and even dismissive responses. Employees from Activision Blizzard slammed the leadership's statements in an open letter. They called them disgusting and insulting and asked Townsend for her resignation as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Womens Network. The letter was signed by over 3,200 employees, both current and past.According to the Activision employee who represented the walkout movement and is keeping his identity secret, the lawsuit exposed feelings of isolation among individuals who felt, for the longest period, like they were alone. It's giving voice to the voiceless, I believe. Employees from Activision, Blizzard and Kingall joined the Activision Blizzard umbrella to organize.WIRED was told by a Blizzard representative and employee that the movement was company-wide. It involved hundreds or hundreds of people. According to the employee, there is currently no discussion about unionizing. On Tuesday, the organizers announced the walkout. They also issued a statement of intention for the action and several demands, including sharing data on employees' compensation to ensure fair wages; better diversity in recruiting; and inviting a third-party, employee-chosen taskforce to vet executive and human resources.