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Activision Blizzard is currently being sued by the state of California in the United States following a two-year investigation into the unequal, sexist practices the Department of Fair Employment and Housing found within the company. These included, but were not limited to, women being subjected to inappropriate behaviour from colleagues, missing out on valid promotions, and even one case of a woman taking her own life after allegedly experiencing sexual harassment from colleagues.
The original statement from Activision Blizzard following this lawsuit caused its own problems. It pushed back on the claims from the DFEH, saying that the department was in fact presenting "distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard's past". It claimed that the government officials had shown behaviour that was "disgraceful and unprofessional" after they resurfaced the death of an employee. Ultimately this part of the rebuttal has been seen as trying to push blame away from the company and onto the DFEH.
Now, a new statement from CEO Bobby Kotick has been sent to all employees acknowledging the shortcomings of the original response and promising some changes to the development studios going forward.
First, he says this week has been "difficult and upsetting" as well as thanking those employees who had come forward with stories to tell. He says that the company's original response was "tone deaf" considering the situation at hand.
The CEO even uses the famous Blizzard motto "every voice matters" to try and show his and employees interests are aligned. That motto has been questioned not only now, but has been scrutinised previously with the Blizchung controversy back in 2019 wherein a Hearthstone player proclaimed "Liberate Hong Kong" on stream before being banned from future tournaments and stripped of his prize money.
Kotick goes on to say that the company will strive to do better, starting with hiring a law firm to review internal practices to find a culture and system that helps promote a "respectful and inclusive workplace". They will act as a third party that Activision Blizzard employees are encouraged to approach should they need to talk about the inner workings of the development studios.
Additionally, there are five actions that Kotick and the company have promised to act on with immediate effect. These are:
"Employee Support. We will continue to investigate each and every claim and will not hesitate to take decisive action. To strengthen our capabilities in this area we are adding additional senior staff and other resources to both the Compliance team and the Employee Relations team.
"Listening Sessions. We know many of you have inspired ideas on how to improve our culture. We will be creating safe spaces, moderated by third parties, for you to speak out and share areas for improvement.
"Personnel Changes. We are immediately evaluating managers and leaders across the Company. Anyone found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences will be terminated.
"Hiring Practices. Earlier this year I sent an email requiring all hiring managers to ensure they have diverse candidate slates for all open positions. We will be adding compliance resources to ensure that our hiring managers are in fact adhering to this directive.
"In-game Changes. We have heard the input from employee and player communities that some of our in-game content is inappropriate. We are removing that content."
The CEO then rounds off this new statement by saying: "You have my unwavering commitment that we will improve our company together, and we will be the most inspiring, inclusive entertainment company in the world."
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