Following the California lawsuit alleging a discriminatory “frat boy” culture at the company, Activision Blizzard recruiters have reportedly been approaching other Activision Blizzard employees who have been pushing for change and telling them that they “freak candidates out.” The recruiters then urge the employees to share “what we are doing as a company to eliminate this toxic behavior,” and say that they have made “strides to head this off.” Employees, however, feel that the requests they have made of Activision Blizzard leadership have still not been addressed.
This was first observed by Blizzard UI Engineer Valentine Powell, who tweeted that they had seen recruiters approaching Activision Blizzard employees and telling them to “stop being so loud” regarding their demands for change.
So hey, I’m seeing recruiters approaching ABK workers who are pushing for change, telling them to stop being so loud. Apparently its making it hard for them to find candidates. It is never ok to tell people to stop advocating for a better workplace. #ABetterABK #EndAbuseInGaming
— Valentine Powell (@valentine_irl) August 17, 2021
But while it may be making it tough for recruiters to find candidates, Powell says “It is never ok to tell people to stop advocating for a better workplace.”
Another Blizzard employee, Jessica Gonzalez, followed up with proof, showing a screenshot of a message she had received from a recruiter at Activision Blizzard that said her “updates don’t seem to address” what the company has been doing to resolve the issues. Again, however, the employees remain dissatisfied with the corporate response to the unsafe and unequal culture allegations, and feel that none of their requests and demands, which remain unchanged, have been properly addressed or actioned on at this time.
— Jessica Gonzalez #ABetterABK (@BlizzJess) August 17, 2021
The full message from the recruiter reads:
I am on the front line as a Recruiter. Some of the articles that you are sharing freak candidates out. [winking tongue out emoji]
Can you please share what we are doing as a company to eliminate such toxic behavior?
ABK has made strides to head this off.
Your updates don’t seem to address this.
Ignoring the fact that “head this off” would mean getting ahead of a situation and not responding after a massive lawsuit becomes public, employees of Activision Blizzard that have been pushing for change are still upset with the way executive leadership has responded to the allegations. Many other Activision Blizzard employees have replied to the tweet with variations of “As soon as we hear what the company is actually doing to eliminate toxic behavior, we’d be happy to share it.” Others have pointed out that the recruiter policing what other employees are posting about probably freaks out potential candidates more.
Still more people have pointed to the fact that employees are stepping up and being so vocal as an admirable quality that the recruiter should be using as a point of pride to help alleviate candidate’s fears about joining the company. That culture of camaraderie among the workers is something that should help candidates want to apply despite the ongoing lawsuit allegations and issues. Some say it feels like recruiters are shifting the blame to the workers being outspoken for change rather than the actual lawsuit and allegations that have spurred those demands for change in the first place.
One of the biggest issues employees have—though certainly not the only one—is the hiring of the Wilmer Hale law firm to oversee an audit of Activision Blizzard’s internal policies for hiring, discipline, etc. Wilmer Hale is notorious as a union-busting firm that protects wealthy corporate interests rather than advocating for employees. The firm also has a previous relationship with the Activision Blizzard executive team, leaving many employees feeling that they wouldn’t be unbiased.
Thus far, it feels like Activision Blizzard’s actions at the top have been about minimal real response or change, waiting for the news cycle to turn over so that they can just get back to making games with as little action or upheaval as possible. In fact, words from executives at the company have promised action and change that it can’t and won’t actionably deliver on unless it starts from the very top, which we’ve seen no indication of happening.
The employees have made it very clear that they aren’t going to stop advocating for change and standing by their requests that have yet to be fulfilled or even directly addressed by the executive team. Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard and Sledgehammer are preparing to announce Call of Duty: Vanguard, a game that analysts predict will be the top-selling title of the year regardless.