Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick Apologizes For 'Tone Deaf' Statement, Read Full Letter Here
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has issued a letter to his employees following the news that a walkout is planned for tomorrow. The walkout is the latest step employees are taking to improve work conditions following details of a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard from the state of California over reported gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace going public.
Game Informer has obtained a copy of the letter from Kotick to the company as a whole, stating that it has “been a difficult and upsetting week.” The letter goes on to denounce the initial Activision Blizzard response, agreeing with the community that the messaging was “tone deaf” and that it is “imperative” that the teams come together and “acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way.” He added, “I’m sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.”
The letter continues, saying:
Many of you have told us that active outreach comes from caring so deeply for the Company. That so many people have reached out and shared thoughts, suggestions, and highlighted opportunities for improvement is a powerful reflection of how you care for our communities of colleagues and players – and for each other. Ensuring that we have a safe and welcoming work environment is my highest priority. The leadership team has heard you loud and clear.
We are taking swift action to be the compassionate, caring company you came to work for and to ensure a safe environment. There is no place anywhere at our Company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind.
We will do everything possible to make sure that together, we improve and build the kind of inclusive workplace that is essential to foster creativity and inspiration.
Kotick also details an immediate plan of action, with the first mandate of enlisting the help of an external law firm called WilmerHale. WilmerHale will investigate current policies within the company to “ensure that we have and maintain the best practices to promote a healthy and inclusive workplace.” Given the inflammatory and egregious nature of the allegations at hand, WilmerHale is likely to face an especially challenging task.
The CEO also provides contact information for Stephanie Avakian, who is revealed to be most recently the Director of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement. This contact information is to be used by anyone that feels or has felt uncomfortable while working at Activision Blizzard in conjunction with the ongoing investigation.
As for what’s next ahead of the court proceedings going forward, Kotick has listed the below actionable items in response to the aforementioned lawsuit:
- 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 message ends with a message of support and a desire to offer a “welcoming, comfortable, and safe” work culture. To learn more about the harassment lawsuit, please refer to our previous coverage here.
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