Activision Blizzard CEO sorry for response to harassment lawsuit as employees plan walkout
Santa Monica, California - In a letter to employees in the wake of a lawsuit alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination at the company, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick described the company's initial responses to the lawsuit as "quite frankly tone-deaf."
The CEO promised that the company is immediately evaluating managers and leaders across the company. Anyone found to have impeded the integrity of processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences will be terminated.
The CEO's letter comes before a planned walkout by employees of the video game company.
They will stage a walkout on Wednesday as a protest against the company's response to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the company by California state. The employees decided to gather outside the company's main office at Irvine.
Kotick acknowledged his respect for the feelings of those who had been mistreated in any way: "I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding."
Kotick has asked the law firm WilmerHale to conduct a review of the company's policies and procedures to ensure that it maintains best practices promoting a respectful and inclusive workplace.
Initial response to lawsuit railed against "unaccountable State bureaucrats"
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing had alleged last week that the company promoted a "frat boy culture" on its premises wherein female employees were subjected to constant sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation.
The department ran a two-year investigation into the allegations and found them to be true.
The company openly discriminated against female employees in employment conditions like compensation, assignment, promotion, and termination. The company was also known to have done nothing to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment against female employees.
Activision Blizzard denied the allegations, saying the lawsuit was merely "irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State's best businesses out of California."
Reacting to the company response, the employees said in a statement: "We believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership."
Over 2,600 employees have written a letter condemning the company response.
Meanwhile, Kotick said in the letter to employees that the company has heard the input from employee and player communities that some of the company's in-game content is inappropriate.
Activision Blizzard is removing that content.
Cover photo: 123RF/piter2121