Employees at the video game studio Activision Blizzard walked off the job Wednesday following an explosive lawsuit that detailed rampant sexual harassment and gender discrimination inside the California company.
According to a statement of intent published by several news outlets on Tuesday, the group of employees organizing the walkout slammed the company for its initial response to the civil suit. That response largely defended Activision Blizzard and was critical of the state agency that brought the claim.
“[W]e believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership,” the employees’ statement read.
The group of employees urged the company to work with them on four demands, including an end to mandatory arbitration clauses in employee contracts and the release of salary and other data.
They said their aim was to improve conditions for employees at the company, especially women and particularly “women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.”
The company’s CEO apologizes for a “tone deaf” response
Also on Tuesday, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick apologized for the gaming giant’s “tone deaf” response to problems at the company raised by employees.
“It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way,” Kotick said. “I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.”
Wednesday’s walkout occurred both in person at the company’s Irvine office as well as virtually for those who were working remotely or at other locations.
Using the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout, several employees shared their support for the action on social media.
“So proud to work with and stand alongside these people,” Anna Rosenberg, an associate software engineer at Blizzard, tweeted. “We will keep fighting for systemic change to protect women and marginalized genders, together.
The civil lawsuit filed last week by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleged that the company culture was akin to a “frat house” where female employees were subjected to sexual harassment, including jokes and unwanted touching.
Women who worked at Activision Blizzard were also paid less than men for doing the same work and passed over for promotions, the suit claimed.
More than 2,000 employees signed an open letter to Activision Blizzard’s management team calling its initial response to the allegations against the company “abhorrent and insulting.”