A damning report says the Activision Blizzard CEO knew for years about horrific incidents and did nothing.
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Employees are calling for the resignation of Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick following some new and very damning revelations into the role he played in the toxic workplace culture at the studio. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal published a detailed report about how Kotick handled, or failed to handle, the sexual-misconduct lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair employment and Housing (DFEH).

The Wall Street Journal's report says that not only did Kotick know about some of the worst incidents within the company, but he also took steps to protect several of the employees that were accused of harassment. According to documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Kotick was the person who actually wrote the email that was supposedly sent out by then executive vice president of corporate affairs at Activision Blizzard, Fran Townsend. This is the email that suggested the DFEH lawsuit presented "a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, out of context stories." This email seemed to push employees beyond the breaking point and pushed them to stage a walkout.

The WSJ report continues on to talk about the recent departure of Jennifer Oneal, the first female leader at Blizzard. Just one month after joining the team, Oneal reportedly sent an email to the Activision Blizzard legal team. In this email she said she wasn't convinced that Activision Blizzard would be able to turn its culture around for the better. She even referenced a time earlier in her career where she said that she has "been tokenized, marginalized, and discriminated against."

The report continues on to say that Kotick intervened to keep an employee at the company following a sexual harassment claim. The employee in question was Dan Bunting, one of the leads at Treyarch. In 2017, Bunting was reportedly accused of sexual harassing a female employee. An internal investigation followed wherein Activision's HR department recommended that he be fired. This is where Kotick reportedly intervened to keep him employed.

Perhaps the most damning of the revelations shared by The Wall Street Journal involves a report of an employee being raped in 2016 and 2017. A lawyer for a former Sledgehammer Games employee says in a July 2018 email that their client had been raped in 2016 and 2017 by her male supervisor after she had been "pressured to consume too much alcohol in the office and at work events."

This employee reported the incidents to Sledgehammer's HR department as well as other supervisors but nothing happened. The email sent by the employees lawyer threatened to sue the company. Within months of receiving the email, Activision had reached an out-of-court settlement with the former employee. The Wall Street Journal reports that Bobby Kotick did not inform the board of directors about the alleged rape or the settlement.

The Wall Street Journal goes on to say that Kotick did not inform the board of directors about multiple investigations into alleged sexual assaults and misconduct against female employees that dated back for several years. Kotick told directors and other executives that he was not aware of allegations, and downplayed other incidents. Documents that include memos, emails, interviews with former employees, and regulatory requests obtained by The Wall Street Journal say that Kotick knew about these incidents within the company. He did not inform the board of directors about everything he knew, even after investigations into the company began in 2018.

In a recent interview, Kotick says that he's transparent with the board of directors and is "very committed to making sure we have the most welcoming, most inclusive workplace in the industry."

Kotick issued a statement today to employees and to the public. In his remarks, Kotick makes no mention of stepping down from the company he's been with since the 90s. In light of the revelations shared by The Wall Street Journal today, his remarks come off as nothing more than attempts at damage control.

As a result of The Wall Street Journal story, employees have called for the resignation of Bobby Kotick. The group also plans to stage a walkout today. This comes via the Twitter account for the ABK Workers Alliance.

The Activision Blizzard Board of directors is standing by Bobby Kotick in spite of the multiple lawsuits, the countless reports of sexual harassment, discrimination, and misconduct, and despite today's damning article by The Wall Street Journal. The board issued a statement today saying that the company is "the most welcoming and inclusive company in the industry."

The Activision Blizzard Board remains committed to the goal of making Activision Blizzard the most welcoming and inclusive company in the industry. Under Bobby Kotick's leadership the Company is already implementing industry leading changes including a zero tolerance harassment policy, a dedication to achieving significant increases to the percentages of women and non-binary people in our workforce and significant internal and external investments to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent. The Board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention.

The goals we have set for ourselves are both critical and ambitious. The Board remains confident in Bobby Kotick's leadership, commitment and ability to achieve these goals.
Keep in mind that the board of directors and executives to much the same extent for these companies tend not to care about employees or their wellbeing. They are not your friend. They care about one thing and one thing only: Money.