Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick apologizes to employees in letter

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick launched a letter to workers on Tuesday, apologizing for the corporate’s response to a lawsuit that alleged numerous instances of gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, and other employee-related issues on the sport writer.

“Our preliminary responses to the problems we face collectively, and to your issues, had been, fairly frankly, tone deaf,” Kotick stated within the letter. “It’s crucial that we acknowledge all views and experiences and respect the sentiments of those that have been mistreated in any means. I’m sorry that we didn’t present the correct empathy and understanding.”

Kotick promised “swift motion” and “long-lasting change” at Activision Blizzard, beginning with a evaluate of the corporate’s insurance policies and procedures by an out of doors agency, and to “promote a respectful and inclusive office.”

These adjustments will come from throughout the firm and throughout the firm’s video games, Kotick stated. He promised adjustments to hiring practices, a evaluate of managers, and adjustments to “inappropriate” in-game content material. On Tuesday, the World of Warcraft development team pledged to take away such content material from the MMO. That will embody characters and objects inside World of Warcraft which can be named after Alex Afrasiabi, who labored on the sport at Blizzard from 2004 to 2020 and is known as as a serial harasser within the lawsuit filed final week by the California Division of Honest Employment and Housing.

California regulators sued Activision Blizzard, which additionally owns cellular sport firm King and Main League Gaming, after a two-year investigation into the corporate. The lawsuit alleges that Activision Blizzard enabled a “frat boy” office tradition that topics its feminine workers to gender-based discrimination and “fixed sexual harassment.” Prime executives, together with Blizzard president J. Allen Brack, are named within the lawsuit for understanding about and enabling this conduct.

In its original response to the lawsuit, Activision Blizzard stated that the DFEH lawsuit contained “distorted, and in lots of circumstances false, descriptions of Blizzard’s previous.” And in an e-mail to workers, Activision Blizzard government vice chairman for company affairs Fran Townsend appeared to downplay the lawsuit’s allegations, saying, “A just lately filed lawsuit offered a distorted and unfaithful image of our firm, together with factually inaccurate, outdated, and out of context tales – some from greater than a decade in the past.”

Allegations documented within the lawsuit are widespread: The investigation discovered that ladies account for less than 20% of Activision Blizzard’s workers, noting that “only a few girls ever attain high roles on the firm.” Those who do, the DFEH stated, earn much less cash than their male colleagues — one thing that allegedly trickles down by all positions on the firm. In different cases, the lawsuit describes managers refusing to advertise girls.

The lawsuit opened the floodgates on social media, the place present and former Activision Blizzard workers advised tales of harassment, discrimination, and different inappropriate behaviors on the firm.

A number of ex-Blizzard workers, together with former executives akin to senior vice chairman Chris Metzen and president and co-founder Mike Morhaime, have spoken out over the past week about the allegations made in the lawsuit. In statements printed on social media — statements with a tone that’s markedly completely different from that of Activision Blizzard’s official feedback — Metzen and Morhaime apologized for his or her roles in creating the corporate’s so-called “frat boy” tradition.

Activision Blizzard workers plan an organized walkout from work on Wednesday.

Kotick’s letter to Activision Blizzard workers will be learn in full beneath.

This has been a tough and upsetting week.

I need to acknowledge and thank all those that have come ahead prior to now and in latest days. I so recognize your braveness. Each voice issues – and we are going to do a greater job of listening now, and sooner or later.

Our preliminary responses to the problems we face collectively, and to your issues, had been, fairly frankly, tone deaf.

It’s crucial that we acknowledge all views and experiences and respect the sentiments of those that have been mistreated in any means. I’m sorry that we didn’t present the correct empathy and understanding.

Lots of you may have advised us that lively outreach comes from caring so deeply for the Firm. That so many individuals have reached out and shared ideas, solutions, and highlighted alternatives for enchancment is a strong reflection of how you take care of our communities of colleagues and gamers – and for one another. Guaranteeing that we have now a protected and welcoming work setting is my highest precedence. The management crew has heard you loud and clear.

We’re taking swift motion to be the compassionate, caring firm you got here to work for and to make sure a protected setting. There isn’t any place wherever at our Firm for discrimination, harassment, or unequal remedy of any sort.

We’ll do all the things doable to be sure that collectively, we enhance and construct the sort of inclusive office that’s important to foster creativity and inspiration.

I’ve requested the regulation agency WilmerHale to conduct a evaluate of our insurance policies and procedures to make sure that we have now and preserve finest practices to advertise a respectful and inclusive office. This work will start instantly. The WilmerHale crew will likely be led by Stephanie Avakian, who’s a member of the administration crew at WilmerHale and was most just lately the Director of the USA Securities and Alternate Fee’s Division of Enforcement.

We encourage anybody with an expertise you consider violates our insurance policies or in any means made you uncomfortable within the office to make use of any of our many current channels for reporting or to succeed in out to Stephanie. She and her crew at WilmerHale will likely be obtainable to talk with you on a confidential foundation and will be reached at or 202-247-2725. Your outreach will likely be saved confidential. In fact, NO retaliation will likely be tolerated.

We’re dedicated to long-lasting change. Efficient instantly, we will likely be taking the next actions:

Worker Assist. We’ll proceed to analyze each declare and won’t hesitate to take decisive motion. To strengthen our capabilities on this space we’re including extra senior employees and different assets to each the Compliance crew and the Worker Relations crew.

Listening Classes. We all know lots of you may have impressed concepts on learn how to enhance our tradition. We will likely be creating protected areas, moderated by third events, so that you can communicate out and share areas for enchancment.

Personnel Modifications. We’re instantly evaluating managers and leaders throughout the Firm. Anybody discovered to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing applicable penalties will likely be terminated.

Hiring Practices. Earlier this yr I despatched an e-mail requiring all hiring managers to make sure they’ve numerous candidate slates for all open positions. We will likely be including compliance assets to make sure that our hiring managers are actually adhering to this directive.

In-game Modifications. We’ve heard the enter from worker and participant communities that a few of our in-game content material is inappropriate. We’re eradicating that content material.

Your well-being stays my precedence and I’ll spare no firm useful resource guaranteeing that our firm has probably the most welcoming, snug, and protected tradition doable.

You’ve my unwavering dedication that we’ll enhance our firm collectively, and we would be the most inspiring, inclusive leisure firm on the earth.

Yours sincerely,

Bobby | Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick apologizes to workers in letter


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