According to Activision Blizzard, more than 20 employees have “exited” the company, and more than 20 other employees have been reprimanded following complaints about misconduct. Last Tuesday, the Financial Times reported that the company sent a letter to staff with the details. Chief compliance officer Frances Townsend said the list includes game developers and “a few” supervisors but no members of the board. Activision Blizzard later posted the letter online.
The letter highlights an internal attempt to “earn our team’s confidence that, when they speak up, they will be heard” following a series of lawsuits accusing Activision Blizzard employees of systematic discrimination and gender-based harassment. The report says disciplinary actions increased from “years ago to the present.” After investigation, “in connection with various resolved reports, more than 20 individuals have exited Activision Blizzard and more than 20 individuals faced other types of disciplinary action.”
Apart from terminations and reprimands, Activision Blizzard says it will add 19 full time employees to its ethics and compliance team and triple its investment in training resources, echoing public promises to upgrade its compliance with workplace protection laws.
A former Homeland Security advisor under the George W. Bush administration, Townsend told FT that an investigation had found misconduct across several parts of the company including “patterns” of bad behavior that couldn’t be addressed with training. She said “It doesn’t matter what your rank is, what your job is. If you’ve committed some sort of misconduct or you’re a leader who has tolerated a culture that is not consistent with our values, we’re going to take action.”
Last July, Activision Blizzard’s workplace problems became widely public after California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) sued it for fostering a culture of “constant sexual harassment” including groping, derogatory comments, and other conduct that supervisors allegedly knew of or “encouraged. “Employees staged walkouts to protest its working conditions and multiple executives like Blizzard president J. Allen Brack left the company.
Last month, the company settled a complaint from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Later, Townsend acknowledged to FT that Activision Blizzard hasn’t met all the demands of protesting employees. She said Activision Blizzard’s board and CEO Bobby Kotick had given her a “blank check” for a reform.