Last week, Activision-Blizzard became the subject of a lawsuit claiming the company had allowed sexism and harassment to permeate through its ranks. The stories noted in the suit were vile, and some of them had fatal consequences as one employee died by suicide following harassment by male members of the company. Today, Bloomberg is reporting that employees past and present have banded together to sign a letter calling the company’s incongruent responses to the lawsuit “abhorrent and insulting.”
The letter, signed by over 1,000 current and former Activision-Blizzard employees, disputes both the company’s own statement and one issued by Frances Townsend, the company’s executive vice president for corporate affairs, both of which claimed the lawsuit didn’t represent the company. This also directly conflicted with company emails from Activision President Rob Kostich and J. Allen Brack, which didn’t deny the lawsuit’s claims, and promised to do better.
As part of the letter, the workers called for official statements that matched the gravity of the situation, for higher-ups to work directly with employees on efforts to help rid Activision-Blizzard of these issues, and for Townsend to step down from her position, claiming her statement was damaging.
The full letter, as published on Bloomberg, reads as follows:
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
Since the lawsuit went public, Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime, who left the company and founded Dreamhaven last year, published his own statement in which he says he failed the women of Blizzard. This is coming from a man who was with the company as recently as 2019, so he knew this was happening.