Activision Blizzard workers go out and call for the resignation of CEO Bobby Kotick

Activision Blizzard workers go without work – both virtually from home. and in person at Blizzard Entertainment’s offices – the following a new report from the Wall Street Journal. Workers are calling for CEO Bobby Kotick’s resignation after the Journal reported that Kotick not only knew about employee dishonesty – including an alleged rape – but minimized its severity for Activision Blizzard’s employees and its board. The report also described former Blizzard co-star Jen Oneal’s departure from the company after she allegedly lost faith that the company could reverse its poison culture.

“We have put in place our own zero-tolerance policy,” said Activision Blizzard workers tweeted from the ABK Workers Alliance Twitter account on Tuesday. “We will not be silenced until Bobby Kotick has been replaced as CEO, and we will continue to maintain our original requirements for third-party review of an employee-selected source. We are holding a Walkout today. We welcome you to join to us.”

Photo: Nicole Clark / Polygon

Across the company, hundreds of Activision Blizzard employees and contract employees resigned from work by noon Tuesday. More than 150 people turned up to protest at the Blizzard campus in Irvine, California, with dozens more outside Activision Blizzard’s quality assurance office in Minnesota. In Irvine, a diverse group of workers and supporters gathered at the office’s main gate on Blizzard Way, some gathered in tents and on blankets with signs. Some wore Blizzard gear, like shirts with a rainbow “Blizzard”.

Several employees told Polygon that they are disappointed and frustrated of the company and the board’s response to the Journal’s report, as Call of Duty and Overwatch publisher said it was “a misleading view of Activision Blizzard and our CEO.” Workers also post on social media in support of the strike and to demand Kotick’s resignation.

“Frankly speaking, [the weight of Bobby’s words] felt threatening in many ways, ”Blizzard employee Valentine Powell told Polygon at the dismissal Tuesday. “He understands that he is responsible for the livelihood of so many people who are trying to make our businesses better, who are trying to promote the cultures that we want to see. And he stands up there and says, ‘If you do not believe in me “then there is something wrong with you.” His actions have not shown what he is proposing. “

Jessica Gonzalez, another Blizzard worker, added that people at Activision Blizzard have had enough of the current situation.

“The workers are just really tired,” she said. “We’re just tired of being misrepresented, abused, abused. Something has to change. You can move people around as you want, but if responsibility does not come from the top, it will not change.”

In an email, a spokesman for Activision Blizzard told Polygon via that the company is “fully committed to promoting a safe, inclusive and rewarding environment for all our employees around the world.” The spokesman said workers are free to “express their opinions and concerns in a safe and respectful manner without fear of retaliation.”

Activision Blizzard was sued in July by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) after a two-year investigation into the company’s alleged “frat boy culture.” Several top executives, including former Blizzard President J. Allen Brack and CEO Kotick, were mentioned in the lawsuit for having knowledge of and enabling the behavior.

Brack resigned shortly after the trial was brought, but the extent of Kotick’s knowledge of the problem was first published in the Journal’s bomb report on Tuesday. In addition to the DFEH case, Activision was Blizzard sued by shareholders in August, and in September the company accepted a settlement of $ 18 million with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to resolve another issue.

The Journal reported that Kotick himself is under investigation with the Securities and Exchange Commission over his knowledge of these incidents and what he revealed to “other employees, the board and investors.”

Allen & Co.  holds its annual Sun Valley Conference in Idaho

Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

In late July, thousands of current and former employees signed an open letter to management ahead of a company-wide shutdown protesting the serious allegations of sexism and harassment at the gaming company. The workers were also saddened by the company initial “tone deaf” response to the prosecutors, which leaders called “includes distorted and in many cases false descriptions of Blizzard’s past.” Workers made demands in an open letter published days after the trial.

“We believe that our values ​​as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our management,” protest organizers said at the time in a statement sent to Polygon. Workers demanded that the company “improve conditions for employees of the company, especially women, and especially colored women and transgender women, non-binary people and other marginalized groups.”

In October, Kotick finally addressed some of these demands, introduced a “new zero-tolerance harassment policy” and waived the forced arbitration that the company uses to deal with complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination. Kotick also said at the time he would take a significant pay cut, cutting his $ 875,000 annual salary to $ 62,500; it had already been reduced from $ 1.5 million earlier in the year. The Journal reported that Kotick announced these measures after its reporters approached the company with the issues that led to Tuesday’s report.

workers / supporters hold a sign saying

Photo: Nicole Clark / Polygon

The Wall Street Journal also said that Kotick himself drafted the controversial letter sent to staff by Activision Blizzard’s chief compliance officer, Frances Townsend, in which she called the DFEH case “distorted and untrue.” In addition to Kotick’s resignation, workers have also demanded that Townsend and CEO Brian Bulatao leave the company.

“We have to trust our leadership,” Powell said at the dismissal Tuesday. “We have a certain amount of confidence in our direct management – the people we work with every day who try to solve the problems. But when it comes to Activision Blizzard, just time and time again, they keep losing confidence in us. They keep rejecting claims. They keep telling us we’re wrong. […] But when it comes down to it, we need a systemic change. We need the ability to have transparency in what happens. ”

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