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The Wall Street Journal released today a new report on the situation at Activision Blizzard. According to this report, the company has either fired or “pushed out” 37 people since last July. Presumably this is part of the company’s efforts to address its culture of sexual harassment and misconduct.
Allegedly Activision Blizzard collected 700 reports from employees about the company’s situation. It intended to release a summary over the holidays, but CEO Bobby Kotick allegedly withheld the report, supposedly because it would make the problem “seem bigger than is already known,” the Journal said.
Last December, COO Daniel Alegre published a letter acknowledging “the need to share more information openly as a company” and promising change going forward.
Activision Blizzard spokeswoman Helaine Klasky confirmed that 37 people had left the company and 44 had been disciplined following the company’s investigation. This investigation began in July, after the company was sued by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Among many other reports, one alleges that Kotick knew about several of the incidents of workplace harassment and discrimination and failed to inform the board of directors. The board has since affirmed its support of Kotick. Klasky also noted the 700 number included complaints not related to harassment.
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Last week, Lego announced that it was putting its Overwatch set on hold to review its partnership with Activision. A spokesperson expressed “concerns about the progress being made to address continuing allegations regarding workplace culture, especially the treatment of female colleagues and creating a diverse and inclusive environment.” The heads of all three console manufacturers — Phil Spencer, Doug Bowser, and Jim Ryan — have also expressed discomfort with how the company has dealt with its own culture. Klasky said Activision Blizzard is communicating its changes to Lego.
In a statement to GamesBeat, a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard said:
Across Activision Blizzard, our team is working tirelessly so that every employee feels safe, equal, heard and empowered. Whether a comment about culture, an incident or suggested improvements, every single report that the company receives matters, and we have significantly increased the resources available to ensure that we can quickly and thoroughly look into each one.
Through our expanded Ethics & Compliance function, we have completed reviews of more than 90% of the reports since July. From these completed reviews, 37 employees have exited the company and another 44 received written reprimands, formal warnings or other discipline.
The assertion that Mr. Kotick blocked the release of this information is simply inaccurate. An interim update to our employees is still being worked on, and the company remains committed to continuing to provide periodic updates on its progress.
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