Content warning: this article contains explicit references to sexual harassment, sexual assault, and suicide.
Activision Blizzard employees are planning a protest walkout today. The protest is to improve the reportedly horrific working conditions.
Earlier this week, the state of California filed a lawsuit against gaming publisher and developer Activision Blizzard. The legal documents include allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination against women. These reports particularly highlight the treatment of women of colour, transgender women, and other marginalised groups.
By and large, most of the gaming community has pulled together in solidarity with the atrocious reports of “frat boy” attitudes aimed towards staff.
However, as reported by Kotaku, employees of Activision Blizzard are planning a formal workout later today in protest of the company’s “response to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Lawsuit.”
Twitter Users are using #ActiBlizzWalkout to show support
The protest takes place virtually from 9am to 6pm PT, with a live event staged between 10am to 2pm PT.
Organisers of the walkout are asking supports to signal-boost via social media during the above hours using the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout.
A representative of the walkout told Kotaku: “We are encouraging employees to take whatever time off they feel safe to do. Most of us plan to take the full day off (without pay), but we understand some people like contractors and associates, and those who are paid less than they deserve, might not have the ability to do so.”
The walkout is also accompanied by a letter of intent by the protest organisers:
Statement of Intent
“Given last week’s statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, and the many stories shared by current and former employees of Activision Blizzard since, we believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.
As current Activision Blizzard employees, we are holding a walkout to call on the executive leadership team to work with us on the following demands, in order to improve conditions for employees at the company, especially women, and in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.
1. An end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, current and future. Arbitration clauses protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution.
2. The adoption of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies designed to improve representation among employees at all levels, agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization. Current practices have led to women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination not being hired fairly for new roles when compared to men.
3. Publication of data on relative compensation (including equity grants and profit sharing), promotion rates, and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company. Current practices have led to aforementioned groups not being paid or promoted fairly.
4. Empower a company-wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit ABK’s reporting structure, HR department, and executive staff. It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment, and to propose new solutions to address these issues.”
CEO Bobby Kotick has spoken
In response to the allegations, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has issued his first public statement on the reports.
His letter acknowledges that the companies initial response to the allegations were “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,” Kotick says. “I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.”
Furthermore, Kotick has laid out a five-step plan. This new approach includes providing employee support, organising listening sessions, personnel changes, adapted hiring practices, and changes to in-game content. It will supposedly be implemented into Activision Blizzard’s working environment with immediate effect.
Here’s how you can show your support
Activision Blizzard protest organisers are urging supporters to use the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout, accompanied by a blue heart emoji. In addition, organisers have listed several charities if supporters wish to show financial support.
Featured Image Credit: Activision Blizzard