Update: This story has been updated to reflect the current number of employees, both current and former, that have co-signed the letter sent to Activision Blizzard management yesterday.
Updated story follows:
In a letter sent to management today, over 3,200 current and former Activision Blizzard employees have strongly denounced the company's public response to the current ongoing lawsuit against the studio. The letter, which was sent to gaming news site Kotaku, has employees of the gaming giant call the response to the allegations the studio fostered an environment which allowed sexual discrimination to flourish "insulting."
The letter, which is co-signed by over 3,200 current and former Activision Blizzard employees, was sent to management at the studio today, calls the company's response to the current lawsuit levied at the gaming publisher by a California agency, specifically the internal memo sent by executive Frances Townsend, "abhorrent and insulting." The letter cotniues, stating that the response by Activision does not reflect the values of the employees that make up the company.
The letter continues, stating that the statements by the studio have "damaged [their] ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry."
"Categorizing the claims that have been made as 'distored, and in many cases false' creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims," the letter goes on to read.
As such, the co-signed employees are calling for the immediate resignation of executive vice president of corporate affairs, as well as former Bush-era Homeland Security Advisor Frances Townsend in the wake of her internal memo that doubled down on the assertion that the allegations were distorted and untrue. Townsend's statement was sent internally, and according to Bloomberg's Jason Schreier has "some Blizzard employees fuming."
Here is the full letter sent to management in its entirety.
"To the Leaders of Activision Blizzard,
We, the undersigned, agree that the statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.
We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry. Categorizing the claims that have been made as “distorted, and in many cases false” creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.
Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action — and the troubling official responses that followed — we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit,” while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse, is simply unacceptable.
We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees — as well as our community — have a safe place to speak out and come forward.
We stand with all our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community, who have experienced mistreatment or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again. We will be the change."
The lawsuit, which was filed early last week, sees the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing file a complaint against Activision Blizzard after a two-year long investigation into the workplace. The California agency alleges in the lawsuit that management at Activision Blizzard allowed a "frat boy culture" to flourish, which saw multiple female employees sexually harassed, as well as discriminated against due to their gender in terms of equal pay, company advancement and more. Activision Blizzard in a fiery statement when news broke Wednesday asserted that the complaint includes "distored, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard's past." Townsend's internal memo sent earlier this week doubles down on this, stating that the "recent lawsuit presented a distorted and untrue picture of [Activision Blizzard]."
This was in contrast to Blizzard president J. Allen Brack's internal memo, which seemed more concilliatory (though neither statement accepted guilt on behalf of the company), calling the allegations and the "behavior detailed" in the lawsuit "unacceptable." Former Blizzard luminaries such as co-founder Mike Morhaime and Diablo co-creator Chris Metzen have also come out on Twitter since the allegations hit, apologizing to women and other victims at Activision Blizzard during their time with the studio.
[Update 4:32pm PDT July 27th, 2021]: As of now, more than 3,200 former and current Activision Blizzard employees have co-signed the letter sent to company management, according to Associate Game Designer at Blizzard Alex Talbott on Twitter. The developer is encouraging more still to sign the letter to reach out via DM.
Over 3,200 now. DMs are still open for any current or former employees that would like to sign. https://t.co/gqVnf46eUY— Alex Talbott ?? (@AlexanderTalb) July 27, 2021