Activision Blizzard employees issued a new statement today criticizing leadership’s actions in the wake of California’s sexual harassment lawsuit against the company. The message specifically calls out CEO Bobby Kotick’s lack of “meaningful” progress after his first public statement and the executive decision to hire a law firm known for its history of union-busting to conduct Activision Blizzard’s internal review.
“You said you would do everything possible to work with employees in improving our workplace,” wrote ABK Workers Alliance, the group also responsible for organizing last week’s walkout protest at Blizzard headquarters, in a statement sent to Kotaku. “And yet, the solutions you proposed in that letter did not meaningfully address our requests. You ignored our call for an end to mandatory arbitration. You did not commit to adopting inclusive recruitment and hiring practices. You made no comment on pay transparency.”
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The letter goes on to reject WilmerHale’s selection as the law firm in charge of independently reviewing internal Activision Blizzard policies for several understandable reasons. The company, the ABK Workers Alliance statement says, previously hired WilmerHale to dispute a shareholder proposal intended to diversify hiring. Activision Blizzard executive and Bush-era torture apologist Frances Townsend is also said to have relationships with many of the law firm’s partners, including former FBI director Robert Mueller.
WilmerHale, the letter continues, also has a history of discouraging union organizing. The law firm’s own website openly includes “advising on union awareness and avoidance” in its list of services, which can only be seen as threatening to Activision Blizzard employees as they work to organize for better working conditions.
ABK Workers Alliance closed its statement with examples of how employees plan to improve Activision Blizzard themselves:
We call on you and your executive leadership team to do better, and to fully address our list of demands. We will not abandon our cause. Our ranks continue to grow across multiple Activision Blizzard studios. While there are structural problems that only you can address, we are already taking steps to improve our workplace through a number of employee-driven initiatives:
- Worker-to-Worker Mentorship: We are building a mentorship program where workers can seek career advice, support, and sponsorship from a network of colleagues in a safe external channel outside company communication networks.
- Open Listening Sessions: We will host listening sessions that will be recorded and disseminated across the organization to facilitate ongoing conversation, education, and emotional support for employees.
- Community Meetings: We will facilitate monthly employee meetings, in a secure external channel, to discuss our concerns, desires, and progress toward achieving our goals. All current ABK employees are welcome to participate in these conversations.
As these actions show, we love our studios and care deeply for our colleagues. We share your expressed unwavering commitment to improving our company together.
We are doing what we can, and we call on you to do what we cannot.
Activision Blizzard has been under intense scrutiny since the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing went public with its lawsuit against the company two weeks ago. The state department alleges that Activision Blizzard leadership allowed an environment of abuse and harassment to fester within the massive corporation which negatively impacted the lives of its female employees.
Earlier today, Activision Blizzard announced that J. Allen Brack would be stepping down as president of Blizzard Entertainment. Brack, who had been with the company since 2006, was one of two men named in California’s lawsuit, which specifically noted his failure to deal with internal reports of sexual harassment. Neither Blizzard’s announcement nor Brack’s personal statement regarding the end of his tenure mentioned the lawsuit.
“We thank J. for his contributions and look forward to working with the new leadership to address our ongoing concerns,” ABK Workers Alliance responded via Twitter shortly after Brack’s departure was made public. “No one person is responsible for the culture of Blizzard; the problems at ABK go beyond Blizzard and require systemic change. We stand by our demands, and we remain committed to taking action until they are met.”