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Activision Blizzard Internal Review Finds 'No Evidence' of Ignored Harassment

Activision Blizzard has determined it did not ignore reports of harassment at the company.
Activision Blizzard has determined it did not ignore reports of harassment at the company. / Activision Blizzard

An internal review conducted by Activision Blizzard has found no evidence of executive's ignoring harassment reports, the company announced Thursday.

"Contrary to many of the allegations, the board and its external advisors have determined that there is no evidence to suggest that Activision Blizzard senior executives ever intentionally ignored or attempted to downplay the instances of gender harassment that occurred and were reported," reads the summary of the report Activision Blizzard released publicly.

Activision Blizzard says its board members brought on "external advisors" to aid in its review of past incidents of harassment, going over source documents such as notes from interviews with involved employees. They also conducted additional interviews with current and former employees.

"Contrary to many of the allegations, the Board and its external advisors have determined that there is no evidence to suggest that Activision Blizzard senior executives ever intentionally ignored or attempted to downplay the instances of gender harassment that occurred and were reported. That work also has not unearthed any evidence, directly or indirectly, suggesting any attempt by any senior executive or employee to conceal information from the Board," reads the summary.

The report does not address reporting by the Wall Street Journal indicating CEO Bobby Kotick overruled a decision by the HR department that a co-head of its studio, Treyarch, be fired over an allegation of sexual harassment. Instead, it says the company has "appropriately disciplined and exited employees to ensure that our practices match our policies."

Neither does the company address a report that Kotick himself had threatened to have an assistant killed, nor an arbitration settlement Kotick made with a flight attendant on a private jet he co-owned who claimed he fired her as retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment. Kotick has previously apologized for the former incident.

The report makes a point of attacking the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for, in Activision Blizzard's view, making "highly inflammatory, made-for-press allegations," and going beyond the remit of its original lawsuit against the company. The tone is similar to that Activision Blizzard deployed when the lawsuit was initially announced, when it described the suit as "meritless and irresponsible." More than 2,000 current and former Activision Blizzard employees signed a letter condemning that response, and Kotick apologized for it in a subsequent open letter.

Activision Blizzard's report took issue with the media's coverage of the multiple lawsuits against it for workplace violations, calling it an "unrelenting barrage of media criticism that attempts to paint the entire Company (and many innocent employees) with the stain of a very small portion of our employee population who engaged in bad behavior and were discipline for it."

"Like any organization that has employed over 25,000 employees over the last decade, Activision Blizzard can always improve. As the leadership team has acknowledged many times over the past year, there have been instances where the standards we set for ourselves have not been met and people were let down. But we are not a company that looks the other way. We learn from our experiences to get better. And we are better and stronger and even more committed to an exemplary workplace because of the experiences of the last year," the report reads.

Activision Blizzard settled a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission earlier this year. It remains engaged in one filed by the DFEH. A group of 12 current and former employees formed an anti-discrimination committee for the company in May.

"At the end of the day, I would like to go into work and not have to think about anything but my work," committee member and Blizzard senior motion graphic designer Emily Knief told The Washington Post at the time. "But based on everything that has been happening, even well before it broke through the headlines, it has been taking up a sizable portion of my day, having to think about the inaction of leadership."

Activision Blizzard still has yet to respond to the committee's demands.