Activision CEO Bobby Kotick responds to sexual harassment lawsuit

Games

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has issued a public statement in response to the sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit that’s been filed against the company.

Kotick addressed a message to all employees concerning the lawsuit brought by the state of California over allegations of harassment and bullying last week, and notes that the company’s response could have been far, far better.

“Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf,” he said in the letter.

He also revealed that a law firm, WilmerHale, has been hired to immediately review the company’s policies in hopes “to promote a respectful and inclusive workplace,” and that Activision Blizzard “will continue to investigate each and every claim and will not hesitate to take decisive action.”

Kotick promised to fire anyone “found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims,” too.

In terms of impact on players, Kotick promised real change will be affected in Activision Blizzard’s games, too.

“We have heard the input from employee and player communities that some of our in-game content is inappropriate. We are removing that content,” he notes.

As Activision Blizzard employees begin staging walkouts in support of the lawsuit and to protest current leadership (with production on World of Warcraft apparently having ground to a halt), the statement may be too little too late.

Over 2,000 staff have signed a petition condemning Activision Blizzard’s reaction to the lawsuit already, and public sentiment towards the company is at an all-time low.

The full letter can be read below:

This has been a difficult and upsetting week.

I want to recognize and thank all those who have come forward in the past and in recent days. I so appreciate your courage. Every voice matters – and we will do a better job of listening now, and in the future.

Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf.

It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way. I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.

Many of you have told us that active outreach comes from caring so deeply for the Company. That so many people have reached out and shared thoughts, suggestions, and highlighted opportunities for improvement is a powerful reflection of how you care for our communities of colleagues and players – and for each other. Ensuring that we have a safe and welcoming work environment is my highest priority. The leadership team has heard you loud and clear.

We are taking swift action to be the compassionate, caring company you came to work for and to ensure a safe environment. There is no place anywhere at our Company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind.

We will do everything possible to make sure that together, we improve and build the kind of inclusive workplace that is essential to foster creativity and inspiration.

I have asked the law firm WilmerHale to conduct a review of our policies and procedures to ensure that we have and maintain best practices to promote a respectful and inclusive workplace. This work will begin immediately. The WilmerHale team will be led by Stephanie Avakian, who is a member of the management team at WilmerHale and was most recently the Director of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement.

We encourage anyone with an experience you believe violates our policies or in any way made you uncomfortable in the workplace to use any of our many existing channels for reporting or to reach out to Stephanie. She and her team at WilmerHale will be available to speak with you on a confidential basis and can be reached at ATVI@wilmerhale.com or 202-247-2725. Your outreach will be kept confidential. Of course, NO retaliation will be tolerated.

We are committed to long-lasting change. Effective immediately, we will be taking the following actions:

Employee Support. We will continue to investigate each and every claim and will not hesitate to take decisive action. To strengthen our capabilities in this area we are adding additional senior staff and other resources to both the Compliance team and the Employee Relations team.

Listening Sessions. We know many of you have inspired ideas on how to improve our culture. We will be creating safe spaces, moderated by third parties, for you to speak out and share areas for improvement.

Personnel Changes. We are immediately evaluating managers and leaders across the Company. Anyone found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences will be terminated.

Hiring Practices. Earlier this year I sent an email requiring all hiring managers to ensure they have diverse candidate slates for all open positions. We will be adding compliance resources to ensure that our hiring managers are in fact adhering to this directive.

In-game Changes. We have heard the input from employee and player communities that some of our in-game content is inappropriate. We are removing that content.

Your well-being remains my priority and I will spare no company resource ensuring that our company has the most welcoming, comfortable, and safe culture possible.

You have my unwavering commitment that we will improve our company together, and we will be the most inspiring, inclusive entertainment company in the world.

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