Employees of troubled studio Activision Blizzard are staging a walkout from their jobs today, amid the controversy and lawsuit filed against the company alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination against female employees, with the company being accused of harbouring a "frat boy" culture amongst senior staff and management.
Last night, CEO Bobby Kotick released a statement advising that a law firm had been asked to "conduct a review of our policies and procedures to ensure we have and maintain best practices to promote a respectful workplace." Employees on today's walkout weren't happy, however, stating that Kotick's words failed to "address critical elements at the heart of employee concerns."
Kotick's statement came after a week of total radio silence from Activision Blizzard, including the cancellation of new content reveals for Overwatch. Originally, the company claimed that the lawsuit allegations were "a distorted and untrue picture of [Activision Blizzard], including factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories, some from more than a decade ago," comments which were acknowledged by Kotick as "tone-deaf" in the statement.
Activision Blizzard walkout organizers just released a statement in response to CEO Bobby Kotick's email to staff in which he described the company's response as "tone deaf" pic.twitter.com/64D7w8PhOL— Megan Farokhmanesh (@Megan_Nicolett) July 28, 2021
While employees taking part in today's walkout welcomed that change in tone, the feeling is that the statement didn't address the actual concerns. The statement released by the employees states that "Today's walkout will demonstrate that this is not a one-time event that our leaders can ignore, we will not return to silence; we will not be placated by the same processes that led us to this point. This is the beginning of an enduring movement in favour of better labor conditions for all employees, especially women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups."
Employees are also seeking for specific responses to the following concerns;
- The end of forced arbitration for all employees
- Worker participation in oversight of hiring and promotion policies
- The need for greater pay transparency to ensure equality
- Employee selection of a third party to audit HR and other company processes
Players are also being encouraged to walkout by using the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout on Twitter, and to boycott games that are published by the company. We'll be sure to keep an eye on this situation as it continues to develop.