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Content warning: rape and sexual abuse
Activision employees have staged a mass walkout and are calling on CEO Bobby Kotick to resign. This follows the release of an explosive new report into the company that reveals grim new details about upper management’s role in the ongoing abuse and harassment allegations.
A major investigation into Kotick’s leadership was published by the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, bringing a number of concerning accounts from employees past and present to light.
In 2006, for example, Kotick is reported to have left his assistant at the time a voicemail message threatening to have her killed. The dispute is said to have been settled out of court, and an Activision spokesperson told Business Insider that the CEO “quickly apologised 16 years ago”.
The representative for the company added that Kotick’s threat was "obviously hyperbolic and inappropriate," and claims that "he deeply regrets the exaggeration and tone" of the message.
Unfortunately, this is just one aspect of the Wall Street Journal’s grim report on Kotick. It has emerged that the Activision CEO was reportedly well aware, for years, of the rape and sexual harassment allegations that have were only recently brought to the public’s attention as a result of the ongoing lawsuits and subsequent Kotaku investigation.
The Wall Street Journal’s report highlights several specific alleged case of rape and harassment at Activision, and claims Kotick was aware of them all. Worse still, it seems he actively stepped in to save one male Activision staffer who had been accused of harassment - in spite of the company’s HR team recommendation of termination.
In one case, a female employee at Sledgehammer Games (one of Activision’s many dedicated Call Of Duty studios) claims she was raped twice by her male supervisor. Once in 2016, and again in 2017. After Activision’s HR department took no action, the employee hired a lawyer and threatened legal action. The Journal alleges that Activision settled the case out of court, and Kotick declined to tell the board.
Elsewhere, Dan Bunting, former head of Treyarch (another Call Of Duty studio) was accused of harassment. Instead of letting him go as per HR’s advice, Kotick ensured Bunting’s safety and arranged for him to be given counseling. It emerged soon after the Wall Street Journal’s report went live that Bunting has left Treyarch.
As for Kotick? It seems the Activision board of directors has rallied around the CEO for now, and will take no action against him.
In response to an explosive story reporting that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick knew about various sexual misconduct and harassment allegations and was himself a perpetrator, and an employee walkout today demanding Kotick's resignation, the board says it is standing by him pic.twitter.com/29q5M2VxIH— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) November 16, 2021
“Under Bobby Kotick’s leadership the company is already implementing industry leading changes including a zero tolerance harassment policy, a dedication to achieving significant increases to the percentages of women and non-binary people in our workforce and significant internal and external investments to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent,” it said in a statement. “The Board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention.
“The goals we have set for ourselves are both critical and ambitious. The Board remains confident in Bobby Kotick’s leadership, commitment and ability to achieve these goals.”
Activision employees have not taken this lack of action lying down, and have organised in their hundreds to stage mass walkouts.
“We will not be silenced until Bobby Kotick has been replaced as CEO," one group lobbying for a better workplace wrote in a message on Twitter.
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