Activision’s internal investigation finds almost nothing wrong

Activision’s internal investigation finds almost nothing wrong

An Activision Blizzard logo hangs in front of a futuristic grid background.

Image: Activision Blizzard / Kotaku

Nearly a year after an explosive lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sparked a storm of accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination At Activision Blizzard, a Board of Directors task force investigating the company has released its findings. Led by a 25-year veteran of the Obligations editor, the group concluded that there was never any “systemic problem with harassment, discrimination, or retaliation” at Activision Blizzard.

“Contrary to many of the allegations, the Board and its outside advisors have determined that there is no evidence to suggest that Activision Blizzard’s senior executives ever intentionally ignored or attempted to downplay the instances of gender-based harassment that did occur and were reported,” it said. the Office of Workplace Responsibility. The committee wrote to shareholders in a June 16 statement SEC filing. “While there are some substantiated cases of gender-based harassment, those unfortunate circumstances do not support the conclusion that Activision’s senior leadership or the Board knew of and tolerated gender-based harassment or that there was ever a systemic problem with harassment, discrimination or retaliation. ”.

These findings are intended to refute the allegations in the DFEH lawsuit and those raised in a November 2021 resolution. Wall Street Journal research. The latter reported that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick failed to report a 2018 settlement with an alleged rape victim in Call of Duty: Vanguard manufacturer of Sledgehammer Games to the company directory.

The report also claimed that Kotick threatened to kill his female assistant in a 2006 voicemail and interfered to prevent the co-director of call of Duty Black Ops Treyarch studio, Dan Bunting, being fired for sexual harassment. An Activision spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal at the time that Kotick had always kept the Board informed, apologized to the aide for the hyperbolic language, and that Bunting was duly sanctioned when the incident occurred. However, shortly after the Wall Street Journal asked about the matter, Bunting resigned from the company.

The Board’s summary says its investigation was based on email communications, contemporaneous memos and other source documents, as well as recent interviews with current and former employees. But Board members don’t elaborate much more on the scope of the investigation, how it was conducted, or what raw data was provided to outside consultants like former EEOC Chairman Gilbert Casellas, who concluded “there was no harassment.” Pervasive, pattern or practice of bullying, or systemic bullying at Activision Blizzard or any of its business units [between September 1, 2016 and December 31, 2021].”

It’s not clear how many current and former employees were interviewed as part of the investigation, why it was limited to just the last five years, or how much Casella was paid. Casella and Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The summary is also difficult to square with the historic $18 million deal with the EEOC for recent victims of workplace harassment and discrimination. “What we have come to realize in recent months is that there are many truths about our company — individual and collective, experiential and data-driven — that can sometimes be difficult to reconcile,” the Board writes. He does not elaborate on the specifics or nature of those opposing “truths”, but goes on to complain that he has been wrongly maligned by a “relentless barrage of media criticism”.

The rest of the group’s findings are devoted to forward-looking statements about new best practices being implemented, such as a new Ethics and Compliance policy and zero tolerance against harassment. In some cases, these initiatives appear to have been a response to employee demands brought together by the ABK Workers Alliance. And in others, they have not complied with those requests. Current and former Activision Blizzard staff continue to ask the company to involve you directly in the decision-making process for eradicating harassment and discrimination in the company.

Some employees have already earned that right legally through a successful union elections for QA developers in your Raven Software studio. Currently in the middle of negotiating your first contractMicrosoft, set to buy Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, recently announced that it would remain neutral on union issues as part of his speech to regulators charged with approving the acquisition.

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