More than 2,600 current and former Activision Blizzard employees have signed a letter condemning the company's response to a lawsuit accusing the company of having a widespread culture of sexual harassment and discrimination, calling the response, "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," the letter reads. "We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry."
Read the full letter below:
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.
In the wake of the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit's publication Wednesday, Activision Blizzard released a statement calling it, "irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats." Meanwhile, leaders within the company offered mixed messages in internal communications.
Blizzard president J. Allen Brack called the lawsuit "extremely troubling," appearing blindsided despite being explicitly named in the complaint as a top manager aware of sexual harassment that failed to act. Activision president Rob Kostich called the behavior described in the suit as "deeply disturbing." On the other hand, Activision Blizzard chief compliance officer Frances Townsend called the lawsuit "meritless," in an email to Activision staff. Activision's chief operating officer, Joshua Taub, reportedly encouraged employees to keep discussions of the complaint internal at a 500-employee all-hands meeting.
Staff at Activision Blizzard sent their letter to managers Monday, when it had around 800 signatories. It has continued to accrue signatures, crossing the 2,000-signature line Tuesday morning. At least 1,600 of those signatures come from current employees, per Axios. Activision Blizzard employs a total of 9,500 staff.
"We appreciate the support of our fellow co-workers, past [Activision-Blizzard-King] employees, and our communities during this time," a representative for the signatories told Polygon in a statement. "Rest assured we intend to demand change, and hold our leaders and companies accountable to the values we signed onto when joining."
Update 7/28/21 11:26 a.m. ET: Blizzard managers have reportedly told team members they will receive paid time off for participating in the walkout.