Following a lawsuit alleging widespread discrimination and sexual harassment of the company, Activision Blizzard expressed "commitment to a safe work environment" in the second quarter of 2021 financial results, and pledged to take "rapid steps to ensure a safe and welcoming work environment for all employees." In his initial statement during today's call to investors, CEO Bobby Kotick spoke bluntly about the matter, promising that "people will be held accountable for their actions."
"There is no place in our company where discrimination, harassment or unequal treatment of any kind will be tolerated," Kotick said in his opening statement. "Our work environment [wherever we operate] will not allow discrimination, harassment or unequal treatment. We will be the company to set an example in our industry."
Kotick made reference today dismissing J. Allen Brack as president of Blizzard, saying he is confident that new co-directors Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra "will ensure that Blizzard provides a welcoming, comfortable and safe workplace that is essential to fostering creativity and inspiration. ". He also pledged to investigate all employee complaints and said Activision Blizzard will hire new staff and resources to its compliance and employee relations teams. And he promised that Blizzard would not hesitate to fire people when needed.
“People will be held accountable for their actions,” Kotick said. "This commitment means that we will not only dismiss employees when appropriate, but we will also terminate any manager or leader who has impeded the integrity of our processes to assess claims and impose appropriate consequences."
Activision Blizzard made similar commitments in its second-quarter press release, noting that it hired a law firm to review its policies and procedures and promise more avenues for employees to talk about abuses.
"We will evaluate the executives and leaders of the entire company in terms of their compliance with our claims assessment processes and impose the appropriate consequences," the company said. "And we will add resources to ensure and improve our consideration of multiple candidate boards for all open positions. The company's leadership is committed to creating the most welcoming, comfortable and safe culture possible."
The hope is that Activision Blizzard will take its problems seriously and act accordingly to fix them. But the measures taken so far have not had an overly positive impact on employees: Earlier today, a group of employees called the ABK Workers Alliance rejected the choice of the law firm WilmerHale to carry out its internal review, saying it "has a discouraging history of workers' rights and collective action."
Employees also expressed doubts about Kotick’s earnings statement on social media, reiterating the demands made during last week’s departure.
today, in the Q2 earnings call, executives said that "… we are taking action to address the concerns of employees …" strange thing, because so far no of the demands have been recognized of employees, much less. #ABetterABK pic.twitter.com/uoGu0dGB94August 3, 2021
This is a non-negotiable demand. Diversity is incredibly important in creating games that appeal to a wide audience. #ABetterABK #EndAbuseInGaming #SquadUpForEquality https://t.co/TaUtc5pDo7August 3, 2021
Kotick's Lipservice re: "hold leadership accountable and fire people who don't maintain a safe work environment" But still, Fran "Whistleblowers R Bad!" Townsend is still close. #ABetterABKAugust 3, 2021
While, clearly, employees are not bothered by management’s reactions and are pushing for more, the earnings statement also makes it clear that shareholder reaction is the main driving force behind the company’s reaction: “If we experience prolonged periods of adverse advertising, we will significantly reduce productivity or other negative consequences related to this issue, our business is likely to be adversely affected, ”he says. "We are closely monitoring all aspects of our business to detect any such impact."