To note, this reporter at TechTheLead will follow the lead of sites like Prima Games, The Gamer, and GameXplain in indefinitely suspending coverage of Activision Blizzard games until there is substantive change in company culture. I will, however, continue to provide updates on the current events as it pertains to the lawsuit, acknowledging the fact that corporate culture changes slowly and generally in ways that are not substantive beyond the immediate moment. Stay tuned for updates in the following days!
Activision Blizzard employees are speaking out in droves since the state of California sued Activision Blizzard for a history and continued culture of sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against women.
While many current and former employees have taken to social media and validated the experiences of these women in Activision Blizzard’s work environment, responses from Blizzard President J. Allen Brack and company executive Fran Townsend in internal emails are lackluster in comparison. The latter of the two received fierce backlash from employees for its corporate speak and continued silencing of victim’s stories and voices (the choice of “victim” reflects the employee letter, quoted below).
In response to Townsend’s email, employees issued a statement calling leadership statements on the lawsuit “abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe [the] company should stand for.” They called on leadership to disavow claims that the lawsuit was “distorted, and in many cases false,” make a statement that “recognize[s] the seriousness of the allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault,” and to work closely with employees in efforts to foster a safe environment for them. (source: Forbes)
As of this reporting, more than 2,000 current and former employees have signed the statement. (source: CNN)
The full statement is 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.