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Activision Blizzard Respond To Allegations Of Harassment Culture Within Company

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Activision Blizzard Respond To Allegations Of Harassment Culture Within Company

The following report contains details that some readers may find upsetting.

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Activision Blizzard is being sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing following a number of harassment allegations and unequal treatment cases within the company, discovered by the DFEH in a two-year investigation as reported by Bloomberg. Women at the company roughly make up 20% of the staff and were, claims the investigation, subjected to a "pervasive frat boy workplace culture". Women also rarely attained top leadership positions, and those who did reach "higher roles earn less salary, incentive pay and total compensation".

The lawsuit alleges that the toxic culture at Activision Blizzard doesn't just stop with women receiving lower starting pay and fewer opportunities, but goes on to describe the sexual harassment that female employees endured. For example, women were subjected to "cube crawls" where drunk male employees would "crawl their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behaviour toward female employees". The investigation also claims that male employees would come in hungover, play video games at work while delegating responsibilities to female employees, and "talk openly about female bodies, and joke about rape".

This environment has, it's claimed, led to a hugely toxic workplace where women working at Activision Blizzard endure sexual harassment and "unwanted sexual comments and advances". Shockingly, it's stated that one female employee committed suicide on a business trip accompanied by a male employee. He had brought butt plugs and lubricant with him on the trip, and male co-workers had allegedly passed around a picture of the deceased woman's vagina at a work party.

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One specific situation at the company details how difficult it has been for women to succeed and receive the same opportunities as their male counterparts at Activision Blizzard. Though one female employee had "highly rated performance reviews", "generated significantly more revenue", and "ran almost twice as many campaigns as her male counterpart", the male co-worker was given the promotion following opportunities where he got to meet with the Vice-President regularly. She was not given the same opportunities, despite the merits of her work.

Women of colour are also highlighted in the report as being especially vulnerable to this culture, such as one African American woman working for two years to become a permanent employee while men hired after her, were made permanent before her. She also was "micromanaged" so much so that while male coworkers were playing video games without interruption from a supervisor, she would be called and checked in on for taking a walk. The same employee also had to write a one-page summary on how she would spend the time she requested off. This was not a rule others had to adhere to.

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Now, Activision Blizzard has responded to these lengthy allegations to IGN, saying: "We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind. We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue."

Activision Blizzard then pushes back on the allegations set out by the DFEH, saying that the investigation did not want to engage with current company practices and instead focused on past actions and a culture that apparently no longer exists at the company.

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"The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard's past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived. They were required by law to adequately investigate and to have good faith discussions with us to better understand and to resolve any claims or concerns before going to litigation, but they failed to do so. Instead, they rushed to file an inaccurate complaint, as we will demonstrate in court. We are sickened by the reprehensible conduct of the DFEH to drag into the complaint the tragic suicide of an employee whose passing has no bearing whatsoever on this case and with no regard for her grieving family.

"While we find this behaviour to be disgraceful and unprofessional, it is unfortunately an example of how they have conducted themselves throughout the course of their investigation. It is this type of irresponsible behaviour from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State's best businesses out of California."

Activision Blizzard also claims that its team now receives "anti-harassment training" and "anti-discrimination training" to combat the culture that the lawsuit highlights.

Featured Image Credit: Activision Blizzard

Topics: News, Blizzard, Activision

Imogen Mellor
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