Last year, Activision was hit by two lawsuits following multiple allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, and workplace misconduct. Its own staff also filed a complaint too, alleging that the company used intimidation and “coercive tactics” to stifle staff trying to improve working conditions. Apparently Activision CEO Bobby Kotick knew about the sexual misconduct all along.
Following the news, Spencer reportedly sent out a staff-wide email stating that Microsoft will be “evaluating all aspects” of its relationship with Activision Blizzard and clarified that the company were already “making ongoing proactive adjustments”.
In a new interview with the New York Times published yesterday (January 11), Spencer was asked about the nature of those adjustments. “The work we do specifically with a partner like Activision is something that, obviously, I’m not going to talk publicly about,” he said. “We have changed how we do certain things with them, and they’re aware of that.”
Spencer went on to say that the allegations “saddened and sickened” him but added “this isn’t about us as Xbox virtue-shaming other companies. Xbox’s history is not spotless,” he continued, referencing the company’s “GDC dance party moment” in 2016, when scantily clad women were hired to perform on platforms.
“Any of the partners that are out there, if I can learn from them or I can help with the journey that we’ve been on on Xbox by sharing what we’ve done and what we’ve built, I’d much rather do that than get into any kind of finger-wagging,” he said.
For there to be a meaningful change Spencer believes “the first thing we need to be able to do is to have people feel like they can report and talk about what’s happening. Having open lines of communication where people can report on their lived experience on our teams, it’s got to be so critical. And to get there, it’s a cultural effort of how do you build that trust so people feel like when they whistle blow, when they raise their hand about topics that are going on, that they won’t face repercussions. Rather, they’ll see action.”
He went on to say that “in terms of work that we do with other companies, again, I would rather help other companies than try to get into punishing. I don’t think my job is out there to punish other companies.”
Following the news, president and chief operating officer Daniel Alegre said: “Our current goal is to double the number of women in our workplace and achieve over one-third representation by 2025.”
Taking matters into their own hands though, employees launched a strike fund and began to unionise in response to ongoing issues.