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Nearly a thousand Activision Blizzard employees slam its response to harassment suit

Nearly a thousand Activision Blizzard employees slam its response to harassment suit


More than 800 employees have signed an open letter

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Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hundreds of Activision Blizzard employees have signed a letter (published by Bloomberg, Polygon, and Kotaku) that rebukes the company’s response to California’s allegations that Activision Blizzard has a discriminatory work culture and issues with sexual harassment. The company’s response to the lawsuit, which paints an extremely upsetting picture of its culture and how women are treated there, has largely been to deny the allegations.

In their letter, which can be read below, the employees say that response “creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims,” and they call for “immediate corrections” from the company’s top leaders.

The letter was written in response to both public and internal statements made by Activision Blizzard and its executives in response to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit against the company. Part of the company’s public response to the lawsuit was to call the state’s suit “irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State’s best businesses out of California.” The employees’ letter also calls on executive Fran Townsend to step down from her role as sponsor for the company’s women’s network after she sent an email that claimed the lawsuit painted an “untrue picture” of the company’s culture and called it “meritless.”

Polygon reports that the letter has gotten over 800 signatures, with Bloomberg putting the number at “nearly 1,000.” Activision Blizzard reported that it had around 9,500 employees in December 2020, so either of those estimates would likely put the count north of 8 percent of the company. Activision Blizzard didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The letter can be read in full below:

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.