Activision Blizzard’s misconduct investigation finds “no widespread harassment”

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Activision Blizzard has published the findings of its internal investigation of workplace misconduct within the company, which says “no widespread harassment” took place between September 2016 and December 2021.

Today (June 16), Activision Blizzard shared the findings of an investigation carried out by its own board and a Workplace Responsibility Committee of independent directors.

The report claims that the company board and its “external advisors” found “no evidence to suggest that Activision Blizzard senior executives ever intentionally ignored or attempted to downplay the instances of gender harassment that occurred and were reported.”

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“While there are some substantiated instances of gender harassment, those unfortunate circumstances do not support the conclusion that Activision senior leadership or the Board were aware of and tolerated gender harassment or that there was ever a systemic issue with harassment, discrimination or retaliation,” claims the findings.

That’s despite a report in November 2021 that alleged Activision CEO Bobby Kotick was aware of sexual misconduct cases within the company, and in 2017 he reportedly intervened to protect a studio head from being fired due to sexual harassment. Kotick was also accused of threatening to have his assistant killed, something Activision admitted he “quickly apologised” for and “deeply regrets”. Kotick remains CEO at Activision.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick
Bobby Kotick. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images.

The findings also state that former EEOCC chair Gilbert Casellas was unable to find “widespread harassment” within the company between September 2016 and December 2021:

“Based on his review, Mr. Casellas concluded that there was no widespread harassment, pattern or practice of harassment, or systemic harassment at Activision Blizzard or at any of its business units during that timeframe. Mr. Casellas further concluded that, based on the volume of reports, the amount of misconduct reflected is comparatively low for a company the size of Activision Blizzard.”

These findings run counter to a year of allegations made against Activision Blizzard. Since the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the company over a “frat boy workplace culture” and “constant sexual harassment” in July 2021, the company has since faced several suits and allegations.

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This year, Activision Blizzard paid £13.7million to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which alleged “severe or pervasive” sexual harassment within the company.

Activision Blizzard Office
Credit: Activision Blizzard

It’s unclear how Casellas has defined “widespread”, as Activision itself has removed over 37 employees and disciplined 44 more in relation to harassment in the last year. Just some of those departing employees include Treyarch co-head Dan Bunting, accused of sexual assault, Diablo 4‘s game director and lead level designer, and World Of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft.

Despite claiming no widespread issues, the report says that Activision has quadrupled the size of its ethics and compliance team and “made high level personnel changes in the executive and human resources teams,” the second of which was accused of having “failed at this systematic protection” in July 2021.

It’s worth noting that these findings come from an investigation organised by Activision Blizzard, and several lawsuits against the company – including the initial one filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing – are ongoing.

In other news, a survey has found that 79 per cent of video game industry workers support unionisation. This is something that Activision Blizzard recently opposed, however quality assurance workers at Raven Software successfully unionised in May 2022.

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