Earlier this year, an email was sent to all Activision Blizzard employees from the email account of the Chief Compliance Officer, former CEO of ABV Employee Women’s Network and former torture pathologist Fran Townsend. Sent in the middle of historical allegations of harassment against the company, it was so bad that it was one of the direct, mentioned reasons for a staff drop.
The email was one of the most tone-deaf, ignorant pieces of the executive hand fan you will ever see. Right in the middle of the allegations that shook a large publishing house to its core, at led to a series of high-profile layoffs and resignations that have dragged both Activision and Blizzard’s names through the mud for most of 2021, the e-mail had the courage to call the lawsuit that triggered these traits as having “presented a distorted and untrue picture of our business”, and went on to say that Townsend was “proud to be a part of a business” , which takes a hard line approach to inappropriate or hostile work environments and problems with sexual harassment ”, after all, what just had happened and was about to happen.
Here it is in its entirety, if you have not yet seen it all:
As the managing sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network and our Chief Compliance Officer, I would like to contact you. I know it has been difficult for many of us. A recent lawsuit presented a distorted and untrue picture of our business, including factually incorrect, old and out of context stories – some from more than a decade ago.
The Activision companies today, the Activision companies that I know, are good companies with good values. When I joined the Executive Leadership Team, I was sure I was joining a company where I would be valued, treated with respect and provide opportunities similar to those of the company men. For me, this has been true in my time. As a leader, I am committed to ensuring that the experience I have is the same as the rest of the organization. We have a management team that is committed to these principles in every way.
I am proud to be part of a company that has a hard line to inappropriate or hostile work environments and sexual harassment. Our Speak Up campaign strengthens our zero tolerance for retaliation against those who speak out. We have made significant investments to promote inclusive behavior and to reflect greater diversity within our management team, including:
* Investing in and strengthening our DE&I employee network; create global networks to bring together the efforts of all our business units and the introduction of Executive Sponsors.
* Introduction of learning and development programs, including inclusive employment training.
* Reinforcement of internal applications such as Way2Play Heroes and the recurring Speak Up campaign.
* Reinforcement of channels for employees to report violations, including “ASK List.”
* Introducing an Employee Relations team dedicated to investigating employee concerns.
* Continues to require all employees to take equality and diversity training, including training against harassment (and has done so for many years).
We make a huge effort to create fair compensation policies that reflect our commitment to equal opportunities. We review compensation regularly and feel confident that we are paying all employees reasonably for equal or largely equal work. We take proactive steps to ensure that salaries and advancement are driven by profit. We reward performance and we conduct extensive anti-discrimination training, also for those who are part of the compensation process.
We work in a company that truly values equality and justice. Rest assured that management is committed to continuing to maintain a safe, fair and inclusive workplace. We can not let the gross actions of others and a truly worthless and irresponsible lawsuit harm our culture of respect and equal opportunities for all employees. We strive in our company to do great things: in our games, in our impact on society and in our work environment. We continue to adhere to our principles and invest, as we have in the past, the resources to ensure quality opportunities for all employees. We remain committed as a management team to doing the right thing.
The email, understandably, made the employees furious, led to Townsend resigning from his role as managing sponsor of the Activision Blizzard Women’s Network and is to this day still one of the most spectacularly poorly judged pieces of damages from the company in a year. , where they have become far too common.
Today, this email has somehow returned and become even more explosive, with that Wall Street Journal reporting that Townsend did not even write it. The besieged Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick did. The story goes that Kotick, which “approves most in-house e-mail as well as media responses”, prepared the e-mail itself and then ordered that it be sent under Townsend’s name, probably because she was one of the few female executives in a business run predominantly by Men.
An Activision representative who responds WSJs reporting says that Kotick now “takes responsibility for the incident and regrets it”, adding “Ms. Townsend should not be blamed for this error. If you remember at the time, Kotick criticized the email for being “tone deaf”, despite the fact that it now turns out he wrote it himself.
Bobby Kotick must resign.
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