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Opinion Business Game Dev Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick says it’s cooperating with investigations, despite claims to the contrary

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
Dec 1, 2014
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In a new press release that also states how the company has “an extraordinary track record of delivering superior shareholder returns for over 30 years”, Kotick claims that harassment and discrimination is not welcome.

“We are deeply committed to making Activision Blizzard one of the best, most inclusive places to work anywhere,” Kotick says. “There is absolutely no place anywhere in our Company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind.

“While we continue to work in good faith with regulators to address and resolve past workplace issues, we also continue to move ahead with our own initiatives to ensure that we are the very best place to work. We remain committed to addressing all workplace issues in a forthright and prompt manner.”

The statement also claims: “The Company continues to productively engage with regulators, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) with the goal of improving its workplace policies and procedures and ensuring compliance.”

Kotick’s statement appears to be at odds with the DFEH’s ongoing harassment and discrimination lawsuit, which was updated last month to add allegations that the company had shredded documents relating to the case and was now interfering with the department’s mandate to investigate the accusations.

The updated complaint also accused Activision Blizzard of taking “adverse actions aimed at curtailing employee rights in this government enforcement action”.

It claimed that Activision Blizzard now requires its employees to agree to a waiver of rights, which includes the following conditions:

  • Employees are requires to “release (i.e. give up) all known and unknown claims that I presently have against the Company… (including [sexual harassment and other claims]”
  • Employees have to agree to non-disclosure terms that say they have never and will never disclose the terms or existence of any settlement payments
  • Employees have to agree to non-disparagement terms that they can’t publicly criticise Activision Blizzard or any of its “policies, practices [or] standards of business conduct”
  • Employees have to notify Activision Blizzard before they talk to the DFEH or another government agency, and have to “permit the Company to take all steps it deems to be appropriate to prevent or limit the required disclosure”
  • Employees have to jointly request, along with Activision Blizzard, that some disclosures should be filed ‘under seal’ (not on the public record) in legal proceedings
 
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ManaByte

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IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
Dec 1, 2014
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In an email update sent to all employees, executive vice president for corporate affairs Fran Townsend stated that the company had received an increase in reports of harassment, discrimination and retaliation and action was being taken on them.

“In recent months, we have received an increase in reports through various reporting channels,” Townsend said. “People are bringing to light concerns, ranging from years ago to the present.

“We welcome these reports, and our team has been working to investigate them, using a combination of internal and external resources. Based on the information received in the initial report, they are assigned into different categories, and resources are allocated to prioritize the most serious reports first.

“In connection with various resolved reports, more than 20 individuals have exited Activision Blizzard and more than 20 individuals faced other types of disciplinary action.”

Townsend also stated that Activision Blizzard was taking other steps to more efficiently address complaints, including:

  • adding 22 full-time roles to its Ethics & Compliance team
  • adding more ‘Way to Play Heroes’ – employees who help other staff to report incidents – and giving them four extra holiday days a year
  • combining its investigations groups into one centralised unit within a central Ethics & Compliance department, which is separate from business units and human resources
  • improvements to the Employee Relations Team to make sure they “handle complaints and concerns with the care and attention they deserve”
  • working on new materials that document the investigative process and let staff who report misconduct know what to expect during the investigation process
  • tripling investment in training resources
“We are committed to making meaningful and positive change, and this is just the start,” Townsend told staff. “We will be sharing additional updates in the coming weeks and months. We know there is always more work to do. We are committed to continuing that work.

“Please continue to share your ideas and suggestions, in whatever ways you want to send them. We will work hard every day to earn your trust and confidence. Together, let’s ensure that we always have a safe, inclusive, and ethical workplace that makes us all proud.”