Over 20 employees have “exited” Activision Blizzard following harassment claims at the company, while another 20 have faced “other types of disciplinary action.”
The news comes via an email from executive vice president for corporate affairs Fran Townsend, that was sent to all Activision Blizzard staff and also shared on their website.
“In recent months, we have received an increase in reports through various reporting channels,” said Townsend. “People are bringing to light concerns, ranging from years ago to the present. We welcome these reports, and our team has been working to investigate them, using a combination of internal and external resources. Based on the information received in the initial report, they are assigned into different categories, and resources are allocated to prioritize the most serious reports first.
“In connection with various resolved reports, more than 20 individuals have exited Activision Blizzard and more than 20 individuals faced other types of disciplinary action.”
The email comes after Activision Blizzard was accused of having a “frat boy culture” rife with sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed by by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
“As one of the world’s largest and most influential companies, our future depends on fostering a company culture where all feel safe and heard,” Townsend continues. That comes with the responsibility of earning our employees’ confidence that, when they speak up, we’ll do the right thing. We must earn our team’s confidence that, when they speak up, they will be heard.
“I have been quietly listening over the last few months to your comments, concerns, and observations. I am grateful to everyone who shared their points of view – especially those who challenged us to do better. It’s important to me that you know how seriously I take this, and how committed I am to the next steps we will take together. We are working tirelessly to ensure that, moving forward, this is a place where people are not only heard, but empowered.”
On the note of ‘doing the right thing,’ Activision Blizzard’s initial response to the lawsuit, which described the allegations as “distorted” and “false,” was regarded as “abhorrent and insulting” by employees – for which CEO Bobby Kotick later apologised. Still, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing has accused the company of shredding documents related to the lawsuit, and further claimed that the company is interfering with their investigations.
It is clear, according to Townsend, that the company needs “to do more, and with a renewed urgency,” as she outlined three themes that have emerged from the Activision Blizzard Ethics & Compliance team’s work in recent months.
“First, do not hesitate to terminate or discipline those who violate our policies and fail to contribute to a positive culture that treats all members of our team with respect,” said Townsend. “Second, be transparent, not only about our investigation processes, but also about the actions we take. Third, invest resources and people into ethics, culture, and training.”
Townsend said that the company is improving how it handles complaints, with the promotion of Jen Brewer to Senior Vice President, Ethics and Compliance. Furthermore, an additional 19 full-time roles have been added to the company’s Ethics & Compliance Team.
Additionally, Activision Blizzard is combining its investigations groups into one “centralized unit within a central ABK Ethics & Compliance Department, which will be separate from business units and other groups like Human Resources or Employee Relations.”
“This will allow investigators to be more efficient and coordinated, aligned on approach, and enable consistent decision making. It also allows us to scale resources more appropriately versus considering how to allocate team members across disparate units.”
Finally, Townsend said that the company is tripling its investment in training resources for all staff, including executives.