Earlier this week, Activision Blizzard was sued by the state of California due to widespread abuse and harassment of employees – specifically women and minorities. The news sparked outrage in Activision Blizzard's gaming communities, where players and influencers are organized. protests within the game i canceling promotional events. Many current and former employees also speak on social media and share their own experiences or express solidarity with their co-workers.
With news of the lawsuit causing so much hurt and anger, key Activision Blizzard leaders have done just that. responded to the controversy with internal notes to employees. But these statements contain conflicting messages about whether the allegations are "irresponsible and unfounded" or unacceptable behavior that the company must do more to protect employees.
Sometime last night, President of Blizzard J. Allen Brack sent an internal email to employees. In that note, Brack said the behavior described in the lawsuit was "completely unacceptable" and reiterated that harassment of any kind was not tolerated while asserting Blizzard's commitment to employee safety and the right to protest. without fear of reprisals. Brack encouraged employees to contact him directly about their complaints and said he would work to find a way to move forward.
Activision President Rob Kostich, too yesterday sent an internal email, saying the allegations were "deeply disturbing" and that the "behaviors described do not reflect the values of our Activision company."
Activision president Rob Kostich sent an email to his employees yesterday calling DFEH's allegations "deeply disturbing", saying the "behaviors described do not reflect the values of our Activison company". https://t.co/bVioTSOM5y pic.twitter.com/dCqQ7PSSYVJuly 23, 2021
While neither email confirms the allegations in the lawsuit, they both condemn the behavior it describes and reaffirm Activision and Blizzard's commitment to employee safety and health. They both share the pain employees feel and pledge to find a way forward.
Today, however, another Activision Blizzard executive sent an internal email in a very different tone. In your emailFran Townsend, an Activision Blizzard compliance officer (and former Bush-era national security adviser), immediately attacked the lawsuit, saying it presented a false and misleading image of (Activision Blizzard) , including incorrect facts, old and out of context stories, some from more than a decade ago. "
As an anecdotal proof, Townsend then recounts his own experience joining Activision Blizzard. "I was confident that I would join a company where I would be valued, treated with respect and given opportunities equal to those offered to the men of the company," he wrote. "For me, this has been true during my time."
Townsend, who has only been with the company for four months, speaks after Activision Blizzard’s various inclusion and diversity initiatives and commitment to equal treatment of employees before returning to the lawsuit: “We can’t let that happen. the blatant actions of others are a claim without merit and irresponsibility, it harms our culture of respect and equal opportunity for all employees. "
Fran Townsend, an executive at Activision Blizzard, who was George W. Bush's national security adviser between 2004 and 2007 and joined Activision in March, sent a very different type of email where some Blizzard employees they smoked. pic.twitter.com/BxGeMTuRYFJuly 23, 2021
In a tweet where I initially shared this email, Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier said the Townsend email has "some Blizzard employees smoking."
Townsend’s email reflects the Activision Blizzard statement gave to PC Gamer. Since the lawsuit was made public, Activision Blizzard's official stance has been a vehement denial, going so far as to attack the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing as "inexplicable state bureaucrats." But the difference in tone between these three emails sends a very conflicting message about how Activision Blizzard's leadership feels in the face of widespread abuse and detailed harassment on demand.
Townsend’s email suggests Activision Blizzard’s record on equal treatment and employee safety is being severely distorted by the lawsuit. This is in stark contrast to the tone of Brack and Kostich's emails, which offer nice promises of listening and improvement.
Townsend's email also discusses the fact that since the news of the lawsuit occurred, many former Activision Blizzard employees have shared their own experiences of abuse and harassment. More on the WoW subreddit, for example, players have made a list of more than 20 former employees (some who only left the company this year), either by corroborating the behavior described in the lawsuit or, in some cases, by confirming that they were one of the victims. .