Organisers of today's staff walkout at Activision Blizzard are pressing ahead with the protest, saying the statement released by company boss Bobby Kotick overnight "fails to address critical elements at the heart of the employee concerns".
Activision Blizzard employees announced strike action last night, in protest against the company's response to a recent lawsuit from California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing which alleged a "frat boy" work culture that created "a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women".
Activision Blizzard immediately went on the offensive when news of the lawsuit initially hit the headlines, calling it "irresponsible behaviour from unaccountable State bureaucrats that are driving many of the State's best businesses out of California". Senior company executive Fran Townsend later doubled down on the attack in an email to all employees, describing the legal action as "truly meritless and irresponsible".
Activision Blizzard executive Fran Townsend, who was the Homeland Security Advisor to George W. Bush from 2004-2007 and joined Activision in March, sent out a very different kind of email that has some Blizzard employees fuming. pic.twitter.com/BxGeMTuRYF— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) July 23, 2021
Criticism was swift. More than 2,000 current and former Activision Blizzard staff signed a petition describing the company's response as "abhorrent and insulting", and called for "official statements that recognise the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault".
As part of the employee response to Activision Blizzard's handling of the lawsuit, a group of staff also confirmed walkout action was planned at the company's offices today, 28th July, listing four demands and calling on "the executive leadership team to work with us... in order to improve conditions for employees at the company, especially women, and in particular women of colour and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalised groups."
Following the news of today's walkout, Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick finally, after days of silence, released a statement describing the company's initial response to the lawsuit as "tone deaf". However, walkout organisers don't believe Kotick's statement went far enough.
"While we are pleased to see that our collective voices - including an open letter with thousands of signatures from current employees - have convinced leadership to change the tone of their communications," organisers wrote in a new statement shared by Axios reporter Megan Farokhmanesh, "the response fails to address critical elements at the heart of the employee concerns". As such, the group will press ahead with today's walkout while it waits for Activision Blizzard to address the following issues:
- The end of forced arbitration for all employees
- Worker participation in oversight of hiring and promotion policies
- The need for greater pay transparency to ensure equality
- Employee selection of a third party to audit HR and other company processes
"Today's walkout will demonstrate this is not a one-time event that our leaders can ignore," the group's statement continues. "We will not return to silence; we will not be placated by the same processes that led us to this point.
"This is the beginning of an enduring movement in favour of better labour conditions for all employees, especially women, in particular women of colour and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalised groups.
"We expect a prompt response and a commitment to action from leadership on the points enumerated above, and look forward to maintaining a constructive dialogue on how to build a better Activision Blizzard for all employees.
"Today, we stand up for change. Tomorrow and beyond, we will be the change."