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Bobby Cotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, has apologized for the “Tone Deaf” company’s response to allegations of sexual harassment against a major video game publisher.
In a statement to all employees, Cotick said he appreciated the courage of all employees who have come forward with their complaints following a lawsuit filed by the state of California’s Fair Employment and Housing.
“Every voice is important – and we’ll do a better job of listening now and in the future,” Kotik said. “For our initial feedback and your concerns about the issues we face together, quite clearly, the tone was deaf.”
He said the company, which publishes games such as Call of Duty and World War F and Craft, accepts all views and experiences and must respect the feelings of those who have been abused in any way.
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“I’m sorry we didn’t get the sympathy and understanding we deserved,” he said.
He was referring to an internal memo to employees of Chief Compliance Officer France Townsend, who denied the lawsuit’s allegations, although the company may be trying to aggressively confront a state agency instead of considering the possibility that some of its own employees’ testimonies may be valid. .
Activision Blizzard executive Fran Townsend, who was George W. Bush during 2004-2007. Bush, who was a Homeland Security adviser and joined the activation in March, sent a very different kind of email in which some Blizzard employees were making a fuss. pic.twitter.com/BxGeMTuRYF
– Jason Scriar (@JasonShareer) July 23, 2021
Many pointed out that former Blizzard president Mike Morheim, former executive Chris Metzen, activation president Rob Kostich and current president J.P.
Townsend’s note states that the lawsuit “presents a distorted and untrue picture of our company, which in fact contains false, outdated and contextual stories – some more than a decade old.” He said today’s activation companies are great companies with good prices. He said the company takes a strict approach to issues of unfair or unfavorable work environment and sexual harassment. She described what the company has done to make it easier to report violations and how it investigates them. But he also said, “We cannot harm our respected culture and all employees with equal opportunity by the harsh actions of others, and by a truly fair and irresponsible lawsuit.”
Townsend’s message angered outsiders and employees alike. Outsiders called for a boycott of the company’s games, while some employees said they would walkout on Wednesday.
This is the latter of what should be. Here is my response. pic.twitter.com/0h8iF6a1JR
– Chris Metzen (@ChrisMetzen) July 24, 2021
Kotik’s message seems to be an attempt to reverse the tough stance. Kotik said ensuring the company has a safe and welcoming work environment is its top priority.
“The leadership team has heard you out loud and clear,” Kotik wrote. “We are taking swift action to ensure a safe, caring company and a safe environment for you to work. There is no place for discrimination, harassment or any kind of unequal treatment in our company. “
He said the company will make every possible effort to ensure that the company improves and builds all kinds of work areas needed to promote creativity and motivation.
“I have asked law firm Wilmerhall to review our policies and procedures so that we have and maintain best practices to promote a respectful and inclusive workplace,” Kotik said. “This work will start soon. The Wilmerhall team will be led by Stephanie Avakian, a member of the management team at Wilmerhall and most recently the director of the enforcement division of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. “
Kotik said anyone who has a policy violation to report or other issues that have made people uncomfortable in the workplace can use existing channels to report problems or reach out to Avakia.
“Your contact will be kept confidential,” Kotik said. “Of course, no retaliation will be tolerated. We are committed to long-term change. Effective immediately, we will perform the following actions. “
You can see the following actions of the company.
We will update this story as we have seen the answers about the message come.
Here is the full text of Kotik’s letter.
This has been a difficult and uncomfortable week.
I want to recognize and thank all those who have come forward in the past and in recent days. I appreciate your courage. Every voice is important – and we will do a better job of listening now and in the future.
The issues we faced together and the initial response to your concerns were, quite frankly, tone deaf.
It is imperative that we accept all views and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been abused in any way. I am sorry that we did not give proper sympathy and understanding.
Many of you have told us that caring for an active outreach company comes with so much care. Reaching out to many people and sharing ideas, suggestions and published opportunities for improvement is a powerful reflection of your teammates and players’ communities – and how you can handle caring for each other. Ensuring we have a safe and welcoming work environment is my highest priority. The leadership team has heard you out loud and clear.
We are taking immediate steps to ensure you have a compassionate, caring company to ensure a safe environment. There is no place for discrimination, harassment or any kind of unequal treatment in our company.
We will make every effort to ensure that we improve and build the inclusive workplace that is needed to promote creativity and motivation.
I have asked the law firm Wilmerhall to review our policies and procedures so that we have and maintain best practices to promote a respectable and inclusive workplace. This work will begin immediately. The Wilmerhall team will be led by Stephanie Avakian, a member of the management team at Wilmerhall and most recently the director of the enforcement division of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
We encourage anyone with experience who believes our policies are being violated or have inconvenienced you in the workplace for reporting or using our many existing channels to reach Stephanie. She and Wilmerhale’s team will be available to talk to you on a confidential basis and can be reached at ATVI@wilmerhale.com or 202-247-2725. Your reach will be kept confidential. Of course, no revenge will be tolerated.
We are committed to long-term change. Effective immediately, we will perform the following actions:
1. Employee support. We will continue to investigate every claim and do not hesitate to take decisive action. We are adding additional senior staff and other resources to both the compliance team and the employee relations team to strengthen our capabilities in this area.
2. Hearing sessions. We know that many of you have inspired ideas about how to improve our culture. We will create safe spaces, mediated by third parties, for you to speak and share areas for improvement.
3. Employee changes. We are immediately evaluating managers and leaders in the company. Anyone who interferes with the integrity of our processes to evaluate claims and impose appropriate results will be terminated.
4. Hiring practice. Earlier this year I sent an email to all Hire managers to make sure they have different candidate slates for all open positions. We will add compliance resources to ensure our hiring administrators in fact comply with this directive.
5. Changes in the game. We’ve heard input from employee and player communities that content in some of our games is inappropriate. We are removing that content.
Your well-being is my priority and I make sure that no company will leave a resource to ensure that a very welcoming, comfortable and safe culture is possible in our company.
You have my unwavering commitment that together we will improve our company, and we will be the most inspiring, inclusive entertainment company in the world.
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