In the context: Activision Blizzard has been embroiled in a series of investigations and controversies over the past few months following reports of widespread sexual harassment and harassment at the company. Several alleged persecutors have already resigned, but that hasn’t ended the fiasco. Reports now claim that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick was not only aware of the misconduct, but may have tried to protect some of the accused employees from punishment.
This news is provided by Wall street journal, who spoke to several sources close to Activision, its subsidiaries, and those familiar with the company’s board of directors.
The article begins with quite a claim: Back in 2016, a former employee of Sledgehammer Games (studio Activision) claimed that in “2016 and 2017” she was raped by a “male warden” after being forced to consume “too much alcohol.” in the office and at work. The meetings were reported to Activision’s HR department, inspectors and even the police, but nothing came of it, according to the WSJ.
Some time later, Activision reached an agreement with the woman, effectively putting an end to this particular case. However, importantly, Kotik did not report this to Activision’s board of directors. The WSJ claims that the executive did not report any other similar incidents.
The accusations don’t end there. Earlier this year, California officially filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for harassment, discrimination, sexism, and other issues related to its “brother-boy” culture.
In response to the lawsuit, Activision Blizzard CEO Frances Townsend wrote an email calling the action both “gratuitous” and irresponsible, “stating that it contains” garbled and in many cases false descriptions of Blizzard’s past. “
We have introduced our own Zero Tolerance Policy. We will not be silenced until Bobby Kitty is replaced as CEO and we continue to adhere to our original requirement for independent scrutiny by an employee’s chosen source. Today we are doing Walkout. We invite you to join us.
– ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) November 16, 2021
At least we thought the letter came from Townsend. WSJ claims that Kitty wrote the answer, but decided to post it under Townsend’s name (presumably to avoid negative PR).
In 2017, the WSJ reports that Kitty intervened on behalf of Activision Treyarch co-head Dan Bunting, who was accused of sexually harassing an employee in 2017 “after a night of drinking.” The publication claims that an internal investigation soon followed, as a result of which investigators recommended the dismissal of Bunting. However, Kitty allegedly “intervened to restrain him,” although it is unclear what that means.
There are many more stories like the ones we just mentioned in the full WSJ report, so if you want all the context, we recommend reading it. It should be emphasized that these are while only accusations and should not be taken as concrete facts or outright lie.
Either way, this is a terrible sight for the company and the CEO, who are already under tremendous pressure from the public, lawyers and regulators. Even Activision Blizzard employees are furious: dozens of workers went on strike, demanding the dismissal of the manager from his post.
Activision Blizzard responded to the WSJ report with the following statement:
We are disappointed with a Wall Street Journal report that misrepresents Activision Blizzard and our CEO. Action was taken on reported cases of sexual misconduct. The WSJ ignores the important changes that are happening now to make this workplace in the industry the most welcoming and inclusive workplace, and ignores the efforts of the thousands of employees who work hard every day to live up to their values and ours. The constant desire to be better has always made this company stand out. This is why, at the direction of Mr. Kotik, we have made significant improvements, including a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior. And that’s why we move forward with unwavering dedication, speed and resources to continue to increase diversity across our company and industry and to ensure that every employee comes to work feeling valued, protected, respected and inspired. We will not stop until we have a better workplace for our team.
While Activision Blizzard’s work to address inequality in the workplace is certainly admirable, only the first sentence of this answer attempts to challenge the WSJ’s claims. Even so, the company does not provide any evidence to support its words – in what sense is the WSJ report “misleading”?
In any case, we will let you decide how to handle this situation. This is certainly a complex issue and may be better addressed by courts and legal experts.