Blizzard controversy: CEO Bobby Kotick finally speaks up

Blizzard controversy: CEO Bobby Kotick finally speaks up

Blizzard controversy

A California agency recently filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard and Blizzard Entertainment, respectively, alleging bullying, discrimination and sexual abuse. As a result, not only did former employees speak up, but the company also issued an initial statement, which, however, was very defensive. This in turn caused a lot of resentment among the current workforce, which now even called for a major protest. After a few days of silence, Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, finally spoke up.

He wrote a detailed letter to all employees, which you can find and read in full on the official website . In it he initially apologized for the first reactions on the part of the company, which he describes as "insensitive". It was a very turbulent week for everyone involved. However, he assures that he appreciates the courage of all those who now speak up in connection with the allegations of abuse. Each of these voices is important and is heard. There is no room for discrimination, harassment and unequal treatment in the company. Therefore, everything will be done to counteract these things as quickly and effectively as possible. The aim is to offer a safe working environment for all employees.

Blizzard removes content from games

To do this, Kotick wants to ensure, among other things, that all managers and executives within the company are scrutinized. Should misconduct of the kind described above emerge, there is a risk of dismissals. There will also be rounds of hearings for worried employees and changes to the filling of vacancies. In addition, some inappropriate content is to be removed from Blizzard Entertainment's games. However, Kotick did not give more details in this regard.

Source: Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard Employees Walking Out Today, CEO Issues Statement After Stock Drops

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 11: A view of the Activision Blizzard booth during the 2013 E3 Electronic ... [+] Entertainment Expo at Los Angeles Convention Center on June 11, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/WireImage)


The saga of the Activision Blizzard lawsuit, and the company’s response to it, continues to unfold with perhaps its most dramatic portion to date today. Thousands of Activision Blizzard employees are planning to walk out today to protest both the issues the lawsuit brings up, the mistreatment of women within the company, and the corporate response to it, which many feel has ranged from inappropriate to “gaslighting.”

Reportedly, Activision Blizzard is not standing in the way of this walk out, offering employees PTO in order to demonstrate. The idea is that any actual reprisals for the action would only draw more heat during a time when the company is already boiling over.

Elsewhere in the industry, many other women in the industry are planning to take time off in solidarity, and many studios that are allowing employees to do this without issue. I’ve heard that Bungie, for instance, a former Activision partner who issued a statement condemning the accusations, will let women take today off in solidarity without taxing them PTO or anything like that.

Yesterday brought with it another corporate statement, this time from longtime Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, though many note the timing of his remarks, which came just hours after the walkout was announced and Activision Blizzard stock started to drop sharply for the first time since this all started to unfold.



Kotick’s statement has not been quite as controversial as the ones that came before it, and in his, he actually calls the company’s initial response “tone deaf.” He lays out five points of action that will allegedly be implemented going forward regarding all this:

  • Employee Support. We will continue to investigate each and every claim and will not hesitate to take decisive action. To strengthen our capabilities in this area we are adding additional senior staff and other resources to both the Compliance team and the Employee Relations team.
  • Listening Sessions. We know many of you have inspired ideas on how to improve our culture. We will be creating safe spaces, moderated by third parties, for you to speak out and share areas for improvement.
  • Personnel Changes. We are immediately evaluating managers and leaders across the Company. Anyone found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences will be terminated.
  • Hiring Practices. Earlier this year I sent an email requiring all hiring managers to ensure they have diverse candidate slates for all open positions. We will be adding compliance resources to ensure that our hiring managers are in fact adhering to this directive.
  • In-game Changes. We have heard the input from employee and player communities that some of our in-game content is inappropriate. We are removing that content.
  • In contrast, here are the four demands organizers of the walkout have made. There really only seems to be one main point of overlap, the Hiring Practices portion:

  • An end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, current and future. Arbitration clauses protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution.  
  • The adoption of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies designed to improve representation among employees at all levels, agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization. Current practices have led to women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination not being hired fairly for new roles when compared to men.  
  • Publication of data on relative compensation (including equity grants and profit sharing), promotion rates, and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company. Current practices have led to aforementioned groups not being paid or promoted fairly.  
  • Empower a company-wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit ABK’s reporting structure, HR department, and executive staff. It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment, and to propose new solutions to address these issues.
  • Despite the organized protest, there has been no actual talk of employees unionizing to confront management. Given that it’s unknown how long the lawsuit will take to play out, it’s unclear what direction this all takes in the wake of today’s walkout and Kotick’s recent statement. We’ll see what happens during and after the event today.

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