Hundreds of employees of Activision Blizzard have signed an open letter to the company’s management, condemning their response to a lawsuit from the state of California alleging of widespread harassment and mistreatment of women at the company.
As per Kotaku, the letter was apparently sent last night and called the statement, as well as a subsequent internal memo from executive Frances Townsend, “abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for.” The letter claimed the statement “creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims” and 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.”
The number signing the petition has continued to grow, starting at 800 signatures from across Activision Blizzard’s studios as of Kotaku’s report, with that figure quickly rising to “almost 1000” as per Bloomberg and “more than 1500” as per PC Gamer by a few hours later. The complete letter reads as follows:
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.
The original lawsuit—filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing last week—accused the World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Call of Duty publisher of fostering a “frat boy” workplace culture. It cited a two year investigation in which, it said, it found multiple instances of sexual harassment and discrimination against women and inappropriate behaviour. In its original response, Activision Blizzard called the allegations in the harassment lawsuit as painting a picture including “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past”.
Activision Blizzard are yet to respond to the petition from its employees at the time of writing.