“To put it plainly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership,” reads one of the first lines in a letter from Activision Blizzard employees. The letter, which Bloomberg says has now been signed by nearly 1,000 employees, denounces recent statements by Activision Blizzard executives following last week’s news of an explosive lawsuit alleging a discriminatory “frat boy” culture that targets women. actively harms the company.
The lawsuit, filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing after an investigation of more than two years, exposed a number of horrific allegations within Activision Blizzard, ranging from active discrimination and inequality for female workers to sexual harassment and assault, a situation that led to suicide. Activision Blizzard executives have made statements that, at best, dismiss the claims and, in other cases, are downright contradictory to them.
Activision Blizzard employees, both current and former, were unhappy with the company’s response to the lawsuit, and many have stated themselves through various social channels that the company’s comments do not reflect their views. However, a number of employees have also joined in a more organized effort, writing and signing a letter expressing distrust of the leadership at Activision Blizzard, as well as asking for statements that “better recognize and express the seriousness of these allegations.” show for victims of harassment and assault.”
The letter says executive statements calling the lawsuit “undeserved” and “irresponsible” are unacceptable in light of a spate of Activision Blizzard employees speaking openly about the corporate culture alleged through the DFEH lawsuit.
The letter reads in full:
To the leaders of Activision Blizzard,
We, the undersigned, agree that the statements of Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as Frances Townsend’s subsequent internal statement, are abhorrent and offensive to anyone we believe our company should stand for. To put it plainly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.
We believe these statements have hurt our ongoing quest for equality within and outside our industry. Categorizing the claims made as “distorted and in many cases false” creates a corporate atmosphere that victims don’t believe. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and create a safe environment for victims to report to in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership does not put our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.
Our business leaders have claimed steps will be taken to protect us, but in light of legal action – and the disturbing official response that followed – we no longer trust our leaders to put employee safety above their own interests . To claim that this is a “truly undeserved and irresponsible lawsuit” when so many current and former employees are speaking out about their own experiences of harassment and abuse is simply unacceptable.
We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and show compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to keep her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network due to 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 up and come forward.
We stand by all of our friends, teammates and colleagues, as well as the members of our committed community, who have faced assault or harassment of any kind. We won’t be silenced, we won’t be sidelined and we won’t give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all be proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.
Additional signatories have added their names to the undersigned’s list on the letter since its publication, and more signatories continue to do so, although the total number is unknown now. With nearly 10,000 employees working for the company, this represents about 10% of Activision Blizzard’s workforce (albeit some former employees) who have publicly signed the letter.
The attention for the lawsuit is already having consequences for the company, which last week unveiled a new een overwatch map was pulled and all of the company’s social media accounts – games and developers – have been completely silent for more than five days.
Numerous outlets and content creators have halted coverage of Activision Blizzard games in the wake of the lawsuit until the company can provide a more satisfying response and take satisfying steps to change the culture and protect the most vulnerable in the company. Reports from Activision Blizzard from various sources indicate that the executive team is leaning heavily on denying, gaslighting and sweeping the lawsuit and allegations under the rug in hopes of getting things back to normal. But for many it is clear that ‘business as usual’ is not something they want to return to.