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Activision Blizzard employees have shared an open letter publicly rebuking CEO Bobby Kotick's response to employee concerns, and criticizing the decision to hire WilmerHale to audit the game company.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

August 3, 2021

2 Min Read

A group of Activision Blizzard employees have shared an open letter publicly rebuking CEO Bobby Kotick’s response to employee concerns over a lawsuit filed by the State of California over sexual harassment and discrimination at the company.

In a letter shared with the press this morning, organizers of The ABK Workers Alliance rejected Kotick’s promised procedures for enacting change at the company, while also announcing the group is taking steps to improve the workplace through a number of different programs.

“The solutions you proposed in that letter did not meaningfully address our requests,” the ABK Workers Alliance wrote. “You ignored our call for an end to mandatory arbitration. You did not commit to adopting inclusive recruitment and hiring practices. You made no comment on pay transparency.”

The letter then goes in to dig into Kotick’s choice of hiring law firm WilmerHale to conduct an internal review of the company. The group commends the notion of hiring a third-party firm to perform an internal review, but rejects the choice of WilmerHale, not just citing their public reputation, but also prior action taken by the company on behalf of Activision Blizzard.

The group’s organizers argued that “WilmerHale’s pre-existing relationships with Activision Blizzard and its executives create an unacceptable conflict of interest,” specifically citing WilmerHale’s involvement in disputing the Diverse Candidate Search Policy proposed by the AFL-CIO Reserve Fund and UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust earlier in 2021.

That concern of conflict of interest comes on top of allegations that WilmerHale is a “union-busting” firm, based on its prior relationship with Amazon and Uber, as well as messaging included on its website. It also charges that leadership had begun to enact anti-union ideology by allegedly taking action to “restrict our freedom of association since last week” by limiting access to a series of listening sessions that have also been reduced in size.

The letter goes on to inform Activision Blizzard management that the group intends to “improve [their] workplace” through several independently run programs, including Worker-to-Worker Mentorship, Opening Listening Sessions, and Community Meetings.

Activision Blizzard’s fumbled response to the lawsuit has already led to today’s departure of J. Allen Brack from the company (though it probably didn’t help that he was named in the State of California’s lawsuit for allegedly enabling abuse from senior employees like former World of Warcraft developer Alex Afrasiabi).

Executive vice president for corporate affairs Fran Townsend, who, like Brack, sent an ill-advised message to employees after the lawsuit was filed, is still with the company.

You can review the full letter from The ABK Workers Alliance here.

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