Employees of Gaming giant Activision Blizzard held a walkout today, ending a week of growing tension over how executives have handled accusations of discrimination and sexual harassment at the company of 10,000 people.
Outside the Activision Blizzard office in Irvine, Calif. On Wednesday morning, employees held up signs with messages such as “Believe Women,” “Commit To Equality,” “nerf male privilege” and “Fight villains. in game / Fight villains IRL ”. Cars drove honking their horns. Online, the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout was all the rage as fans of titles like World of warcraft and Monitoring expressed overwhelming support, including pledges to boycott the matches of the day as a sign of solidarity.
More than 200 people attended the walkout event, based on photos posted on the internet. An unknown number of other employees participated in the remote work stoppage.
“We love our work, but our work doesn’t love us in return,” said Activision employee WIRED before disengaging. ” And that hurts. So we are trying to change that.
Today’s walkout was spurred, in part, by Activision Blizzard management’s reaction to a explosive trial filed by the California Department of Employment and Housing last week. The lawsuit alleges endemic inequalities in the workplace, ranging from unequal pay for similar work to a culture of leadership that has allowed sexual harassment and even retaliation against women who have come forward.
In response, Activision Blizzard released a statement saying the company values diversity, but also criticizing DFEH’s two-year investigation as “irresponsible behavior by irresponsible state bureaucrats who hunt many of the best. California state enterprises “. Activision Blizzard’s chief compliance officer, Fran Townsend, former security adviser to George W. Bush, struck the same tone. In a letter she sent to staff last week, obtained by Axios, she described the lawsuit as “truly baseless and irresponsible” and the allegations it contains as “factually incorrect” or “old.” She also said she was “proud” to be part of a company that takes a “tough approach to inappropriate or hostile work environments”. Company chairman J. Allen Brack, who is named in the lawsuit, called the allegations “extremely disturbing” in another internal email obtained. by Bloomberg.
Employees, especially those who have had personal experiences of sexual harassment and discrimination in the company, were irritated to hear what they saw as less empathetic, if not dismissive, responses. On Monday, Activision Blizzard employees denounced management’s statements in an open letter, calling them “odious and insulting to anything we think our company should stand for.” The letter noted that employees had lost confidence that “leaders would put the safety of employees before their own interests” and called on Townsend to step down from her role as executive sponsor of the ABK Women’s Network. As of Tuesday evening, the letter had more than 3,200 signatures from current and former employees.
“The lawsuit highlighted feelings of isolation vis-à-vis individuals who for a long time felt lonely or that reprisals could arise,” said the Activision employee and representative of the movement. walkout, which is anonymous for fear of repercussions. “I think it gives a voice to the voiceless.” To support these people, Blizzard employees, Activision and King, all under the umbrella of Activision Blizzard, have started to organize.
“The move has been a company-wide, collaborative effort between hundreds and hundreds of people,” said a Blizzard employee and representative of the walkout movement. WIRED. The employee adds that there is no ongoing conversation about organizing. Organizers announced the walkout on Tuesday. They also released a statement of intent for action, as well as several requests, including: sharing employee compensation data to ensure fair compensation; recruitment policies that better promote diversity; and using a third-party working group chosen by employees to review human resources and management.