Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has issued a letter to all employees following a lawsuit alleging widespread sexual harassment and discrimination against the company. In the letter, Kotick describes the company's initial responses to the lawsuit as "frankly deaf" and promises that leadership will "immediately assess the executives and leaders of the entire company." The letter arrives the night before a planned outing by Activision Blizzard employees.
Activision Blizzard's initial response to the lawsuit was fierce denial, with a spokesman calling the allegations "distorted and, in many cases, false." Later, the tone changed, Blizzard president J Allen Brack called the lawsuit "extremely worrying" in an internal email, and Activision president Rob Kostich called them "deeply disturbing ".
Activision Blizzard's demand and response to it have attracted widespread public criticism of current and former Activision Blizzard employees, which culminated in the staging plans of an employee walk on July 28th. Kotick's statement is the first explicit recognition of these concerns.
The statement is available here on the Activision Blizzard Investors website and pasted completely below.
This has been a difficult and annoying week.
I want to acknowledge and thank all those who have shown up in the past and in recent days. Thank you very much for your courage. Every voice is important, and we will hear better now and in the future.
Our initial responses to the problems we faced together and to your concerns were, frankly, deafening.
It is essential to recognize all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been abused in some way. I'm sorry we didn't provide the right empathy and understanding.
Many of you have told us that active outreach comes from taking such deep care of the company. That so many people have come and shared outstanding thoughts, suggestions, and opportunities for improvement is a powerful reflection of how you care about our communities of colleagues and players, and others. My top priority is to ensure a safe and welcoming work environment. The management team has heard you clearly.
We are taking swift action to be the compassionate and supportive company you have come to work for and to ensure a safe environment. In our company there is no place anywhere for discrimination, harassment or unequal treatment of any kind.
We will do our best to make sure that together we improve and build the kind of inclusive workplace that is essential to fostering 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 part of WilmerHale’s management team and most recently the director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division.
We encourage anyone who has experience that you believe violates our policies or who has in any way made you uncomfortable in the workplace to use any of our existing channels to inform or contact Stephanie. She and her WilmerHale team will be available to speak with you in confidence and you can contact them at ATVI@wilmerhale.com or 202-247-2725. Your broadcast will be kept confidential. Of course, no retaliation will be tolerated.
We are committed to lasting change. Effectively immediately, we will take the following actions:
Employee support. We will continue to investigate each and every one of the claims and will not hesitate to take decisive action. To strengthen our capabilities in this area, we incorporate additional staff and other resources into both the Compliance team and the Employee Relations team.
1. Listening sessions. We know that many of you have inspired ideas on how to improve our culture. We will create safe spaces, moderated by third parties, for you to talk and share areas for improvement.
2. Staff changes. We immediately evaluate the executives and leaders of the entire company. Anyone who has obstructed the integrity of our processes to assess claims and impose appropriate consequences will be terminated.
3. Contracting practices. Earlier this year, I sent an email asking all recruitment managers to make sure they had multiple candidate tracks for all open positions. We will add compliance resources to ensure that our procurement managers actually comply with this directive.
4. Game changes. We’ve heard opinions from worker and player communities that some of our game content isn’t appropriate. We remove this content.
Your well-being remains my priority and I will not spare any company resources to ensure that our company has the most welcoming, comfortable and safe culture possible.
You have my unwavering commitment to improving our business together and we will be the most inclusive and inspiring entertainment company in the world.
Shares of Activision Blizzard have fallen as much as 9% today after employees' exit plans were announced.