Activision Blizzard employees resigned Wednesday to protest the company’s response to a bomb lawsuit filed last week over alleged discrimination and harassment against women.
The lawsuit, filed by the California Department of Housing and Fair Employment, focuses largely on the company’s Blizzard division and describes a workplace where sexual harassment is high and often goes unpunished and women are left unpunished. they are paid less, they are denied promotions and retaliation. .
The proceedings are the result of more than two years of research on Activision Blizzard, according to the app. It demands damages, unpaid wages and pensions for all company employees, among other penalties.
However, the march was launched Wednesday at the company’s Irvine office, and almost all over the world, it was inspired by Activision Blizzard’s response to the lawsuit rather than the case itself.
Immediately after the lawsuit was filed, a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard released a statement saying the lawsuit contained “distorted and in many cases false descriptions of Blizzard’s past,” accusing the state of rushing to sue and calling the case “behavioral irresponsible for irresponsible behavior ”. government offices. “Two days later, an email from Activision Blizzard CEO Frances Townsend reiterated this message and wrote that the lawsuit” showed a distorted and unproven picture of our company, including an incorrect, old and out of context fact ” .
Throughout this time, current and former employees had shared their experiences of harassment and discrimination on social media.
Over the weekend, the employees decided to respond. A group of employees wrote a letter to management, saying that the company’s initial statement and Townsend’s follow-up were “disgusting and offensive” and wrote that they “no longer trust our leaders to put employee safety before their own. interests”. The letter called for public statements acknowledging the seriousness of the allegations and demanded that Townsend resign from leadership of the company’s female staff.
As of Tuesday, the letter had more than 3,100 signatures, more than 1,600 from current Blizzard employees, according to a Blizzard employee who was a spokesperson for the staff who organized the anonymous walk out of fear of retaliation.
The call offered four requirements: a change in the employment and promotion policy to increase the number of women in the company, publication of benefits and promotional materials for all employees, a third-party review of the company’s management and human resources department , and closing. of mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts. “Protect the perpetrators and limit the opportunities for victims to seek redress.
Blizzard initially supported his aggressive stance Tuesday night when the company told employees they would be paid for time off work during the march. Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick also issued a statement acknowledging that the response was “muffled” and promised “swift action,” including a review of the policy of an outside law firm, firing executives who have suppressed harassment and discrimination and the change of sexual content in company games. .
In a statement, the staff who organized the walk stated that Kotick did not meet any of its four requirements. “We will not return to silence,” he said. “We will not be satisfied with the same process that led us to this point.
At 10 a.m., about 150 people gathered outside the gates of Blizzard’s campus in a large office courtyard in Irvine. Many people wore Blizzard T-shirts and badges that were critical of the company’s leadership. Some read “Lead Responsibly” and “All Voices Matter.
Less than two hours later, the crowd was still strong outside the Blizzard campus. The cars that gave their support to pass in front of the group were welcomed and applauded. Across the street, former Blizzard employees and fans set up a booth for water and snacks.
Blizzard employees, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said they did not expect the movement to lose momentum until lasting changes were made. Some people think the walk will ignite the #MeToo moment in games beyond Activision Blizzard.
And they said the result was just the beginning of more actions to come.
Activision Blizzard was founded in 2008 when Activision in Santa Monica merged with Blizzard Entertainment’s parent company in Irvine and is the largest gaming company in the United States. The company has 9,500 employees worldwide, but Blizzard Entertainment accounts for nearly half of those employees. Successful titles such as “Call of Duty,” “Warcraft,” “Overwatch,” “Hearthstone,” and “Candy Crush” increased the company’s revenue to more than $ 8 billion by 2020.
The company’s share price did not change significantly last week when the lawsuit was filed, but after the share price drop, the share price fell 6.7% on Tuesday.