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Activision Blizzard employees to walk out in support of lawsuit

Updated: A number of Activision Blizzard employees will stop work on Wednesday and protest in front of Blizzard's campus after a lawsuit.

A number of Activision Blizzard employees have announced their intent to implement a work stoppage on Wednesday July 28, alongside a protest to be held on the Blizzard campus in Irvine, California.

Employees sent notice to news outlets (including Polygon) that also included four demands they are making of Activision Blizzard management. The walkout is in response to a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment that accused Activision Blizzard of fostering a workplace culture filled with sexual harassment and discrimination.

Activision Blizzard has stated that the lawsuit is built on “distorted, and in many cases false” descriptions of incidents at the company. The company’s leadership has also responded internally with confusing messages to employees, some expressing sympathy with victims of harassment and discrimination, others denying the merits of the lawsuit.

Current and former employees have spoken out in support of the lawsuit on Twitter, sharing anecdotes that range from microaggressions in meetings to outright physical harassment in the workplace.

The four demands being made of Activision Blizzard by employees include an end to mandatory arbitration in their contracts, adoption of recruiting and hiring policies to improve representation at all levels of the company, publication of salary data, and the creation of a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit Activision Blizzard’s reporting structure and human resources department.

Gamasutra will be visiting the walkout tomorrow morning. If you’d like to share your story, you can contact us anonymously by e-mail or reach out to chat on Signal.

Developers participating in (or supporting) the walkout can join online, using the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout on social media platforms. You can read the full letter that Activision Blizzard employees below.

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.

Update: Blizzard employees participating in the walkout have encouraged that developers supporting them make contributions to the following charities: Black Girls Code, Futures Without Violence, Girls Who Code, RAINN, Women in Animation, and Women in Games International.

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