Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has finally addressed the allegations levied against the publisher in a public statement sent to employees earlier this evening. The statement calls the company's initial responses "tone deaf" as he thanked employees who have come forward in recent days.
The statement in full, which we'll detail below, addresses the way with which Activision Blizzard first addressed the lawsuit allegations, both publicly and interally, calling the response from the company "tone deaf" and that they did not "provide the right empathy and understanding."
"Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf.
It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way. I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding."
The statement goes on to detail what Activision Blizzard is doing to take what Kotick calls "swift action" to be "the compassionate, caring company" employees came to be a part of. One of these is by having a the law firm WilmerHale conduct what Kotick calls a "review of [Activision Blizzard's] policies" to make sure that the publisher is fostering an inclusive environment. Kotick states that this is taking place immediately.
The statement also details more of what they at Activision Blizzard will be doing to what Kotick calls "long-lasting change." This includes taking steps such as creating safe spaces where employees can speak out and share their experiences with a third party to improve company culture. Additionally, Kotick states that Activision Blizzard is "evaluating managers and leaders across the Company," and will be terminating anyone who is found to have "impeded the integrity of [Activision Blizzard's] process for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences."
This is a tonal shift from the fiery responses the company first gave once the lawsuit allegations by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing were first reported last week, in addition to the internal memo sent by Activision executive Fran Townsend, which called the allegations in the lawsuit "distorted and untrue." In response over 3,200 former and current employees have penned a letter to Activision Blizzard management denouncing the response by the publisher and calling for Townsend to resign. Additionally, employees at Activision Blizzard staging a walkout protest, pushing back against the response by the company and demanding a change in the company culture.
Here is the full statement sent by Bobby Kotick below:
This has been a difficult and upsetting week.
I want to recognize and thank all those who have come forward in the past and in recent days. I so appreciate your courage. Every voice matters - and we will do a better job of listening now, and in the future.
Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf.
It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way. I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.
Many of you have told us that active outreach comes from caring so deeply for the Company. That so many people have reached out and shared thoughts, suggestions, and highlighted opportunities for improvement is a powerful reflection of how you care for our communities of colleagues and players – and for each other. Ensuring that we have a safe and welcoming work environment is my highest priority. The leadership team has heard you loud and clear.
We are taking swift action to be the compassionate, caring company you came to work for and to ensure a safe environment. There is no place anywhere at our Company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind.
We will do everything possible to make sure that together, we improve and build the kind of inclusive workplace that is essential to foster creativity and inspiration.
I have asked the law firm WilmerHale to conduct a review of our policies and procedures to ensure that we have and maintain best practices to promote a respectful and inclusive workplace. This work will begin immediately. The WilmerHale team will be led by Stephanie Avakian, who is a member of the management team at WilmerHale and was most recently the Director of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement.
We encourage anyone with an experience you believe violates our policies or in any way made you uncomfortable in the workplace to use any of our many existing channels for reporting or to reach out to Stephanie. She and her team at WilmerHale will be available to speak with you on a confidential basis and can be reached at [email protected] or 202-247-2725. Your outreach will be kept confidential. Of course, NO retaliation will be tolerated.
We are committed to long-lasting change. Effective immediately, we will be taking the following actions.
- Employee Support. We will continue to investigate each and every claim and will not hesitate to take decisive action. To strengthen our capabilities in this area we are adding additional senior staff and other resources to both the Compliance team and the Employee Relations team.
- Listening Sessions. We know many of you have inspired ideas on how to improve our culture. We will be creating safe spaces, moderated by third parties, for you to speak out and share areas for improvement.
- Personnel Changes. We are immediately evaluating managers and leaders across the Company. Anyone found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences will be terminated.
- Hiring Practices. Earlier this year I sent an email requiring all hiring managers to ensure they have diverse candidate slates for all open positions. We will be adding compliance resources to ensure that our hiring managers are in fact adhering to this directive.
- In-game Changes. We have heard the input from employee and player communities that some of our in-game content is inappropriate. We are removing that content.
Your well-being remains my priority and I will spare no company resource ensuring that our company has the most welcoming, comfortable, and safe culture possible.
You have my unwavering commitment that we will improve our company together, and we will be the most inspiring, inclusive entertainment company in the world.