“To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership,” one of the earliest lines in a letter from Activision Blizzard employees reads. The letter, now signed by nearly 1,000 employees, according to Bloomberg, denounces recent statements made by Activision Blizzard executives following last week’s news of an explosive lawsuit alleging a discriminatory “frat boy” culture that actively harms women at the company.
The lawsuit, brought on by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing after a 2+ year investigation, brought to light a number of horrific allegations across Activision Blizzard that range from active discrimination and inequality for female employees to sexual harassment and assault, one situation which resulted in a suicide. Activision Blizzard executives have issued statements that have been dismissive of the claims at best, and outright combative against them in other cases.
Employees of Activision Blizzard, both current and former, have not been happy with the corporate response to the lawsuit, and many have issued statements of their own via various social channels that the comments made by the company do not reflect their views. However, a number of employees have also banded together in a more organized effort, penning and signing a letter calling out distrust in leadership at Activision Blizzard, as well as asking for statements that better “recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault.”
The letter says that the executive statements calling the lawsuit “meritless” and “irresponsible” is unacceptable in the face of a wave of Activision Blizzard employees speaking openly about the company culture that is alleged via the DFEH lawsuit.
The letter in full reads:
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.
Additional signers have added their names to the list of the undersigned on the letter since its publication, and even more continue to do so, though its unknown what the total number is now. At nearly 10,000 employees who work for the company, this represents about 10% of the Activision Blizzard workforce (albeit, some former employees) that have publicly signed the letter.
Attention on the lawsuit is already affecting the company, where last week a reveal of a new 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 ceased coverage of Activision Blizzard games in the wake of the lawsuit until the company can issue a more satisfactory response and begin making satisfactory movement towards changing its culture and protecting the most vulnerable at the company. Reports out of Activision Blizzard from various sources indicate that the executive team is leaning hard on denying, gaslighting, and sweeping the lawsuit and its allegations under the rug in hopes that it can get back to business as usual. But for many, it’s clear that “business as usual” isn’t something they want to go back to.[Source: Bloomberg]