The ongoing Activision Blizzard saga centering around a hostile and unhealthy workplace has gone all the way to the top. Weeks after taking a pay cut following multiple lawsuits and accusations regarding sexual harassment and other related controversies within Activision Blizzard, CEO Bobby Kotick became the subject of a scathing Wall Street Journal report. According to the story, Kotick was not only aware of various cases of sexual harassment within the company throughout the past several years, but the executive also ignored cases and sometimes defended accused employees.
The Wall Street Journal specifically cites cases of former employees at Call of Duty studios Sledgehammer Games and Treyarch. This report, based on memos and emails shared with The Wall Street Journal, establishes a pattern of Kotick downplaying the severity of sexual harassment in the workplace and silencing any public criticisms of accused or ousted employees. Kotick himself has been accused in the report of contributing to the environment, with shocking anecdotes including Kotick threatening an assistant “to have her killed” in 2006 and telling a flight attendant of a private plane, allegedly after the pilot sexually harassed her, “I’m going to destroy you.”
Also included in the report are details regarding former co-head of Blizzard Jennifer Oneal, appointed after J. Allen Brack stepped down from the role. Oneal stepped down from her new position early this month; during her tenure, Oneal sent out an internal email describing her own experience facing harassment in the company and described instances of an unsafe working environment for women. Oneal also stated that she received a lower pay rate than her male counterpart Mike Ybarra.
An Activision Blizzard employee has told Gamepur that employees were sent a video containing a response from Kotick. In it, Kotick gave a vague statement that did not address any specific points in the report, instead emphasizing a “zero-tolerance policy” and a “welcoming, inclusive workplace,” according to a transcript of the video obtained by CharlieIntel. “…anyone who doubts my conviction to be the most welcoming, inclusive workplace doesn’t appreciate how important this is to me,” Kotick’s message includes.
ABK employees have already begun to stage a walkout, specifically demanding the resignation of Kotick and other figureheads at the company.