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Blizzard Still Under Fire As 1,500 Of Its Employees Condemn Its Leadership [Update]

Update (28/7/2021): Activision Blizzard employees are planning a walkout on Wednesday PT. Blizzard senior software engineer Valentine Powell and the World of Warcraft leadership team paying employees for the time they spend during the protest.

“Our leadership on the WoW team has worked with us over the last week to respond and start taking action.

In addition to this message, crafted in large part by the non-men across our team, our leadership has also agreed to pay us for the time we are taking off for our walkout and committed to allowing leads and managers to participate in the strike without fear of recrimination. I see this as the first step toward them being willing to speak with their actions.”

The protest will continue until the following four demands are met:

  • An end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, current and future. Arbitration clauses protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution.
  • The adoption of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies designed to improve representation among employees at all levels, agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization. Current practices have led to women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination not being hired fairly for new roles when compared to men.
  • Publication of data on relative compensation (including equity grants and profit sharing), promotion rates, and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company. Current practices have led to the aforementioned groups not being paid or promoted fairly.
  • Empower a company-wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit ABK’s reporting structure, HR department, and executive staff. It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment and to propose new solutions to address these issues.

All news and whatnot surrounding the walkout can be found in the #ActiBlizzWalkout hashtag, which is picking up momentum as of this writing.

Original story

Activision Blizzard cannot catch a break. As if the current sexual harassment lawsuit isn’t enough, its current and former employees have signed a letter stating that the company’s recent response to the lawsuit is “abhorrent and insulting”.

To recap, the response to the lawsuit was done in an internal memo form by chief compliance officer Frances Townsend, dismissing the suit for its distortion and untrue picture of the company. About 1,500 Blizzard employees, both current and former, countered this with an employee letter sent to Activision Blizzard’s managers (via Kotaku):

“The statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel … are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. 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.

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.”

The employee letter also asked that Activision Blizzard executives take these allegations seriously, have Townsend step down from her position as executive sponsor of the Activision Blizzard King Employee Women’s Network, and want company leadership to work with its employees on having a safe space to speak out about misconduct.

For more on Activision Blizzard’s current lawsuit, head here.

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