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Activision Blizzard execs never knowingly tolerated harassment, says Activision Blizzard

"There is no evidence to suggest that Activision Blizzard senior executives ever intentionally ignored or attempted to downplay [...] instances of gender harassment."

Chris Kerr, News Editor

June 16, 2022

3 Min Read
The Activision Blizzard logo

Activision Blizzard has determined that Activision Blizzard execs never knowingly tolerated gender harassment or workplace misconduct.

The embattled Call of Duty publisher has been conducting a "thorough review" into its company culture with the assistance of external advisors, and claims its findings do not support the conclusion that senior leadership or board members were aware of and tolerated gender harassment or that there was "ever a systemic issue with harassment, discrimination, or retaliation."

Activision Blizzard has recently been subject to multiple governmental investigations after a deluge of allegations were made that indicated the company had allowed a "frat boy culture" to take hold, allegedly resulting in serious instances of workplace harassment and misconduct.

Multiple senior figures, including CEO Bobby Kotick, are also alleged to have been aware of the cultural rot eating away at the company.

According to a new SEC filing (spotted by PCGamesN), however, Activision Blizzard claims its own review into those allegations—which reportedly covered individual instances of harassment along with its policies and procedures for dealing with such cases—determined that there is "no evidence to suggest that Activision Blizzard senior executives ever intentionally ignored or attempted to download the instances of gender harassment that occurred and were reported."

"The review of contemporaneous documentation and statements by relevant individuals shows that media criticism of the Board and Activision Blizzard senior executives as insensitive to workplace matters is without merit," wrote the company.

"Activision Blizzard senior executives responded in a timely manner and with integrity and resolve to improve the workplace. While there are some substantiated instances of gender harassment, those unfortunate circumstances do not support the conclusion that Activision senior leadership or the Board were aware of and tolerated gender harassment or that there was ever a systemic issue with harassment, discrimination or retaliation."

Activision also suggested the press has subjected it to an "unrelenting barrage" of criticism despite it implementing new policies—such as waiving arbitration for individual cases of sexual harassment and releasing the U.S. Pay Equity Review for 2020 -- in a bid to reform its culture and become more transparent.

"It must be said that [Activision Blizzard] has been subject to an unrelenting barrage of media criticism that attempts to paint the entire company (and many innocent employees) with the stain of a very small portion of our employee population who engaged in bad behavior and were disciplined for it," continues the SEC filing.

"Like any organization that has employed over 25,000 employees over the last decade, Activision Blizzard can always improve. As the leadership team has acknowledged many times over the past year, there have been instances where the standards we set for ourselves have not been met and people were let down.

"But we are not a company that looks the other way. We learn from our experiences to get better. And we are better and stronger and even more committed to an exemplary workplace because of the experiences of the last year."

Activision Blizzard's assertions that there has never been a systemic issue with harassment, discrimination, or retaliation arrives shortly after current and former Activision Blizzard staff banded together to form an anti-discrimination committee.

Prior to that, Activision Blizzard also told shareholders to vote down a request for an annual harassment report, telling shareholders that its energy would be better spent "directly responding to employee concerns."

Those interested in hearing more about Activision Blizzard's recent workplace review can read the full SEC filing here.

Update: Employee advocacy group A Better ABK called this report from Activision Blizzard "an incredible disrespect to the victims of harassment." It argued that the company either knew what was going on and did nothing, or admitted it was not in control of its own employees.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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