37 Activision Blizzard employees have reportedly “exited” the company since July of last year as part of the company’s attempt to crack down on issues surrounding sexual harassment, according to internal documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Activision Blizzard spokesperson Helaine Klasky also told the WSJ that 44 individuals were disciplined in connection with workplace misconduct allegations.
Kotick reportedly didn’t want to release this information for fear of making the situation seem worse
These numbers likely include the more than 20 workers that exited the company in October, along with around 20 workers who the company reprimanded at the time. The WSJ also notes that Activision Blizzard collected around 700 employee complaints describing concerns about workplace misconduct. Activision Blizzard was reportedly set to release a report summarizing the results of its ongoing investigation towards the end of last year, but WSJ reports that CEO Bobby Kotick refused, saying it would amplify the company’s issues and make them seem worse than they are.
“Across Activision Blizzard, our team is working tirelessly so that every employee feels safe, equal, heard and empowered,” Activision Blizzard spokesperson Rich George told The Verge. “Whether a comment about culture, an incident or suggested improvements, every single report that the company receives matters, and we have significantly increased the resources available to ensure that we can quickly and thoroughly look into each one.” George also confirmed that the company has completed reviews of over 90 percent of employee reports since July, and describes Kotick’s alleged refusal to release this information as “inaccurate.”
Last July, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued Activision Blizzard for promoting a culture of “constant sexual harassment.” Since then, numerous employees have come forward with their own experiences with sexual misconduct at the company, alleging that management was aware of and potentially encouraged the behavior. The company reached an $18 million settlement with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September, but the DFEH has recently appealed the judge’s decision that prevents it from intervening.
Kotick has also been personally accused of abusive behavior in November, and despite this, the company’s board still expressed confidence in his leadership. Shortly after, over 1,500 employees signed a petition to remove Kotick as CEO, who only said he would consider stepping down if the company’s toxic work culture couldn’t be fixed “with speed.”
Disclosure: Casey Wasserman is on the board of directors for Activision Blizzard as well as the board of directors of Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.
Update January 17th 4:10PM ET: Added a statement and additional context received from an Activision Blizzard spokesperson.