Shannon Liao at the Washington Post reports that Activision Blizzard employees are walking out Tuesday, Nov. 16, and demanding the resignation of CEO Bobby Kotick after the Wall Street Journal revealed he kept the board of directors in the dark for years while aware of claims of sexual misconduct. This is the same Kotick who said in September after Activision Blizzard settled with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that “There is no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind.”
Today, Kotick defensively stated in an internal message that, “There’s an article today that paints an inaccurate and misleading view of our company, of me personally, and my leadership. Anyone who doubts my conviction to be the most welcoming, inclusive workplace doesn’t really appreciate how important this is to me.”
This may seem like empty words considering this year’s news stories about the toxic culture at Activision Blizzard. Activision Blizzard, owner of popular esports franchises Call of Duty and Starcraft, has been in hot water all year. The corporation is facing two lawsuits by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and is currently being investigated by the Security and Exchange Commissioninvestigations after years of sexual harassment, discrimination, and abusive workplace environments. In addition to demanding Kotick step down, the employees that have stopped working in protest have also called for a review of the company’s labor practices by an external third-party organization chosen by the workers.
The walkout at 12 p.m. PT in Irvine, Calif., is being joined in solidarity by a work pause of employees that work from home.
The Business Wire reports that the Board of Directors have issued a statement in support of Kotick:
The Activision Blizzard Board remains committed to the goal of making Activision Blizzard the most welcoming and inclusive company in the industry. Under Bobby Kotick’s leadership the Company is already implementing industry leading changes including a zero tolerance harassment policy, a dedication to achieving significant increases to the percentages of women and non-binary people in our workforce and significant internal and external investments to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent. The Board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention.
The goals we have set for ourselves are both critical and ambitious. The Board remains confident in Bobby Kotick’s leadership, commitment and ability to achieve these goals.
Evidently, they have not yet been moved to accept worker demands. It is hard to believe that there is no one that would be capable of doing Kotick’s job without allowing the rot in the command structure to fester as it has.
The hashtag #actiblizzwalkout is being used by Activision Blizzard employees discussing their reasons for walking out, as well as reporting from games media and solidarity from people across the games industry and community for labor seeking better treatment at one of the biggest game companies in the world.
In addition to Brian Kotick, Activision Blizzard Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulato and Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs Frances Townsend are both targets of the labor demonstration. As Jessica Gonzalez, Senior Test Analyst at Blizzard’s online gaming service battle.net, tweeted:
>Jason Schreier of Bloomberg reported that over 100 people are present at the walkout at the Irvine, CA campus.