After learning of former Blizzard President J. Allen Brack “stepping down” from his role earlier today, it looks like another high-level Activision Blizzard executive left the company this week. Senior People Officer Jesse Meschuk was the “top HR representative” at Blizzard, and an Activision Blizzard spokesperson confirmed to Bloomberg that he left the company this week. Meschuk’s departure comes amid an Axios report wherein multiple employees claimed that the HR department at Activision is “broken” and had “failed them” on more than one occasion.
The Axios report follows up on a lawsuit filed by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in California against Activision Blizzard two weeks ago, in which documents alleged a discriminatory “frat boy” culture. Axios spoke to a dozen employees and sources within the company, who reported that HR regularly “undermined and discounted victims’ experiences, and did not protect their identities.” This included questioning and dismissing those who came to HR with complaints of harassment and even physical assault, protecting abusers, and generally dissuading people from bringing issues to the HR department. “This isn’t a fight you want to fight,” was something one employee claimed HR had said.
HR at Activision Blizzard has a reputation of doing nothing about many claims, which leads to many employees not even wanting to deal with reporting claims or issues at all. More, the Axios report alleges that “[HR] representatives bullied, belittled, or showed skepticism after being informed of alleged harassment or assault.” They also had a reputation of not being private with the information and claims that were brought to them. “They were going to tell everybody about what you said. Nothing you said was private with HR.”
One former Blizzard employee, Nicki Broderick, detailed instances where going to HR had accomplished nothing, saying “it’s not harassment. He didn’t touch you.” Broderick says that her career was affected from that moment on, claiming her growth at the company was “stunted” after making the report. In another case, she was told by HR to “suck it up,” and that she was “acting like a brat.”
Still another source, currently employed, says that her report of physical assault was doubted by HR because she wasn’t more emotional about the issue. “One of the things [the HR rep] commented on was that she was surprised I wasn’t crying or I wasn’t more hysterical.” Instead of punishing the abuser, HR made efforts to disrupt the employee making the claim, including suggesting working from home or moving departments.
The Axios report goes on to say that part of the problem is high turnover within the department, as well as shoddy reporting with “a surprising lack of paper trail,” something that created verbal agreements and pressure on employees directly to maintain records. Blizzard’s reputation as a top-tier company to work for became something of a deterrent to rocking the boat and disturbing the existing “frat boy” culture where harassment was often just seen as a big joke; “I felt like in order for me to survive in this situation, because I wanted to work there long term, I [had] to go along with it,” one employee said.
Activision Blizzard commented on the Axios report, saying “We will not tolerate anyone found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences. If employees have any concerns about how Human Resources handled claims, we have other reporting options, including anonymous ones.” However, many find it difficult to take these claims at face value, given the ways the company has failed employees in the past. It has also retained the services of a notoriously “pro corporate” union busting law firm amid the recent allegations, which has raised some alarms that Activision Blizzard isn’t truly listening to employees, but rather trying to protect the executive suite at the top.[Source: Bloomberg, Axios]
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