More Than 800 Activision Blizzard Employees Outraged at Company's Response to Sexual Harassment Allegations

Calling the company’s comments “abhorrent and insulting.”

Gaming
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More than 800 employees from Activision Blizzard have come together to issue an open letter to the developer’s leadership team expressing outrage and calling for immediate rectification.

Last week, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against the gaming giant over alleged sexual harassment and gender discrimination, claiming that the studio had fostered a “frat house” work environment that encouraged toxic behavior. In response, Activision Blizzard dismissed the allegations as “reprehensible” and “distorted,” a reaction that has now caused widespread outrage among its employees.

In a letter addressed to the company’s leadership that was subsequently obtained by Polygon, a group of more than 800 staff called Activision Blizzard’s response “abhorrent and insulting” and that it “damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry.” You can read the full letter below:

“To the Leaders of Activision Blizzard,<
We, the undersigned, agree that the statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.

We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry. Categorizing the claims that have been made as “distorted, and in many cases false” creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.

Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action — and the troubling official responses that followed — we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit,” while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse, is simply unacceptable.

We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees — as well as our community — have a safe place to speak out and come forward.

We stand with all our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community, who have experienced mistreatment or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.”

Activision Blizzard has not responded to requests for comment on the open letter.

Elsewhere in the gaming industry, Panic is opening up pre-orders for its Playdate later this month.

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