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Activision Blizzard workers share demands to end gender inequity at the company

Activision Blizzard workers are making specific demands of leadership to address alleged gender inequity problems at the company.

Bryant Francis, Senior Editor

June 30, 2022

4 Min Read
A masked woman holds a sign that says "Women's Voices Matter."

The Worker Committee Against Sex & Gender Discrimination, an assembly of Activision Blizzard workers working to combat sex and gender discrimination at the publisher, has released a series of demands it is making of company leadership.

These demands follow a year of accusations against Activision Blizzard where the company was accused of fostering a culture of sexual harassment and abuse. Earlier this year, it settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission, but still faces a lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

The demands made by the Worker Committee represent a new roundup of the core issues workers allegedly face across the company's different branches. 

Many demands overlap with accusations made against the company by current and former employees as well as state regulators.

Demanding more of leadership

Here are the demands workers are making of Activision Blizzard:

  1. Instituting a relationship between leadership, the Worker Committee, and the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) coordinator, and allowing workers to sign off on recommendations made by the coordinator. 

  2. Change policies around human resources meetings to address "a history of gross negligence in sexual harassment and discrimination disputes." In response to accusations of abuse directly enacted by human resources, these changes include the end to undocumented human resource chats, blanket employee permission to include witnesses or supportive colleagues in meetings, and written agendas for every invitation to meet with human resources.

  3. An end to all mandatory arbitration.

  4. Protection from retaliation.

  5. A process to allow independent investigators to investigate all claims of discrimination. This demand also includes the requirement that subjects of discrimination complaints be provided with a copy of the complaint and the investigation's findings after the investigation is concluded, not before.

  6. Workplace improvements and protections for transgender and nonbinary employees. The committee calls out that transgender and nonbinary representation in upper management and in diversity initiatives is "severely lacking," and advocates for improved medical and logistical support for transgender employees.

  7. Expanded parental leave and accommodations. Specifically, the committee is demanding that parents be given 12 weeks paid-time-off to bond with their new baby without fear of losing their position or compensation. 

  8. Expanded lactation protections and support policies in response to "substantiated reports" that lactation rooms have not been properly equipped and that breast milk has been stolen from lactation room fridges. 

  9. Expanded protection for community managers, customer service representatives, and receptionists in the face of controversy. The committee notes that scandals and controversies ranging from the suspension of professional Hearthstone player Blitzchung to the ongoing sexual harassment and discrimination controversy have correlated with an uptick of abuse toward player-facing employees. The committee is demanding that customers caught harassing employees be suspended or banned and that workers be given access to an internal reporting method to log incidents of harassment.

The demands made by Activision Blizzard workers seem to be based on personal experiences at the company and contrast with Activision Blizzard's assessment that the company never knowingly tolerated harassment.

We should also note that the demands made by the Worker Committee include language calling for special processes in the event that a c-suite-ranked employee is accused of harassment. Previous investigations of Activision Blizzard by The Wall Street Journal have implicated CEO Bobby Kotick of allegedly participating in harassment and enabling misconduct.

It continues to speak volumes that the workers of Activision Blizzard, who are most familiar with how harassment and discrimination has allegedly manifested at the company, continue to speak out against management's efforts to resolve these issues. 

Update: An Activision Blizzard spokesperson provided the following statement in response to Committee's demands: 

"Our employees made these requests two months ago and at that time, the Company had already adopted many of the policy changes they sought. We have, for example, waived arbitration of individual sexual harassment and discrimination claims (last October), hired new DEI and EEO leaders, and collaborated with employees to make our policies and processes more Trans inclusive, just to name a few issues they have raised."

"Retaliation is prohibited and any employee found to have retaliated against anyone for making a complaint would be terminated immediately. We have combined its investigations groups into one central Ethics team separate from Human Resources and hired more Ethics team members. As we said two months ago and we continue to appreciate that these employees want to join with us to further build a better Activision Blizzard and continue the progress we have already made."

About the Author(s)

Bryant Francis

Senior Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Bryant Francis is a writer, journalist, and narrative designer based in Boston, MA. He currently writes for Game Developer, a leading B2B publication for the video game industry. His credits include Proxy Studios' upcoming 4X strategy game Zephon and Amplitude Studio's 2017 game Endless Space 2.

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