Activision Blizzard reports that more than 20 employees have left the company and that more than 20 others have been disciplined after being accused of misconduct. According to the Financial Times, the company sent staff a Tuesday letter with details. Frances Townsend, chief compliance officer, told the outlet that it included game developers as well as a few supervisors. However no board members were on the list. Activision Blizzard posted the letter later online.
This letter describes a company's attempt to give our teams the confidence that they will be heard after a series lawsuits against Activision Blizzard employees for systematic discrimination and harassment based on gender. The disciplinary actions were taken in response to an increase in reports of incidents that occurred from years ago to the current. More than 20 employees have been fired by Activision Blizzard, and many more are facing other types disciplinary action.
Activision Blizzard announced that it will add 19 full time employees to its ethics team and compliance team, on top of the three roles it already added, and triple its investment into training resources. This is in addition to terminating and reprimanding employees. Its public pledges to improve workplace protection laws compliance.
Activision Blizzard promises more updates on reform
Townsend, a former Homeland Security Advisor under the George W. Bush Administration, told FT that misconduct had been found in several areas of the company. She stated that employees would be fired if they displayed bad behavior patterns that could not be corrected with training. No matter your rank or job, it doesn't matter. We will take action against any leader who tolerates a culture that is inconsistent with our values or has committed misconduct, she said to FT.
Activision Blizzards workplace problems were made public by Californias Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The lawsuit claimed that the company fostered a culture of sexual harassment, including groping and derogatory comments. Several executives, including J. Allen Brack, subsequently left the company.
Activision Blizzard has settled a US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint (EEOC) last month. However, its legal issues are ongoing. The company is seeking a stay in DFEH. It accuses the agency of ethical violations that could compromise its complaint. California's Employment Fairness Watchdog has objected to the EEOC Settlement, saying that it could lead to the destruction of evidence in their own case.
Townsend admitted to FT that Activision Blizzard had not met the demands of protesting employees. They have asked for an end to mandatory arbitration in harassment cases. She said further changes were coming and that Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzards CEO, had given her a blank cheque for reform. The letter states that we are committed to meaningful and positive changes and that this is only the beginning. In the coming weeks, we will share more updates.