Activision Blizzard CEO Calls for Investigation Amid Discrimination Lawsuit

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick recently outlined a plan to change the company’s culture following a lawsuit alleging discrimination and sexual harassment against women.

In a letter to employees published Tuesday night, and ahead of an employee strike scheduled for Wednesday, Kotick apologized for the company’s initial “muffled” response to the California lawsuit. He promised to take “quick action” and said he hired a law firm to conduct a review of the company’s policies and procedures.

Kotick said the company is providing employees with additional support and safe spaces. Activision Blizzard will evaluate managers and leaders from across the company. “Anyone who has impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing the appropriate consequences will be fired,” he said. Activision Blizzard will also remove content from the game that employees and player communities have found inappropriate.

The lawsuit, filed July 20 by the California Department of Housing and Fair Employment, said female employees make up about 20% of Activision Blizzard’s workforce and few women reach top positions at the company. “Women who achieve higher roles earn less salary, incentive pay and total compensation than their male counterparts,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also says Activision Blizzard has a “frat boy culture” that is a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women,” who are “subjected to constant sexual harassment.”

The company’s chief compliance officer, Frances Townsend, called the allegations a “distorted and false image of our company” and “objectively incorrect, old, and out of context,” in an internal letter obtained by The Washington Post.

As of Tuesday, at least 2,600 current and former employees signed a letter criticizing management’s dismissive response to the lawsuit, and at least 50 employees plan to take part in the strike on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.

“We will do everything we can to ensure that together we improve and build the kind of inclusive workplace that is essential to fostering creativity and inspiration,” Kotick wrote.

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