Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick pledges change as law firm investigates harassment claims

“Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf.”

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has apologised and detailed how the business will move forward following a week of sexual harassment allegations and an ongoing lawsuit.

Kotick issued the letter last night (July 27) on Activision Blizzard’s investor page. The CEO’s letter marks a major change in how the company has publicly addressed the lawsuit and allegations up until this point.

Kotick sets out changes in the letter, listing five immediate actions Activision Blizzard will take. The CEO commits to investigating every claim, introducing listening sessions for staff to raise ideas, company wide personnel changes, a complete review of hiring practices and several in-game changes that will remove “inappropriate” content.

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Presented in full, these five commitments are:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Activision Blizzard has also asked the law firm Wilmerhale to review all policies and procedures. A third-party review of all practises and reviews will provide Activision Blizzard with an unbiased snapshot of how the publisher operates.

Activision Blizzard Orc Statue
Credit: Activision Blizzard

Kotick takes on a contrite tone in the letter, thanking those who had the courage to come forward and apologising for the businesses’ previous response: “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,” added Kotick.

Activision Blizzard’s letter arrived just over twelve hours before hundreds of staff members will hold a strike in protest of the company’s response. The strike, which is taking place today (July 28), will see numerous staff members protest outside the publisher’s Californian headquarters.

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According to Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier, Activision is supporting the walkout by offering staff paid time to those who want to strike. Staff are primarily striking in protest of Activision’s actions this past week, but they are also demanding the publisher remove a number of mandatory clauses found in job contracts and that Activision offers more transparency on compensation between genders.

Kotick also encouraged staff who have an “experience you believe violates our policies in any way” to get in touch, providing a contact email and telephone number to WilmerHale.

Thousands of Activision Blizzard staff members have signed an open letter criticising the company’s response in the wake of the lawsuit filed by the state of California. The letter, which was signed by current and former staff members, was sent to a number of media outlets and to Activision Blizzard’s management.

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