Kotick’s response comes as hundreds of employees gear up for a walkout on Wednesday to pressure the company to do more to address a host of issues including unequal pay, gender discrimination and harassment.
Those issues burst into the open last week, when California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, filed a lawsuit accusing Activision Blizzard — the company behind popular video games such as “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” and “Candy Crush” — of fostering a “frat boy” work culture where female employees have to “continually fend off unwanted sexual comments and advances by their male coworkers.”
The complaint also alleges that “the company’s executives and human resources personnel knew of the harassment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful conduct, and instead retaliated against women who complained.”
The company’s director of corporate communications, Kelvin Liu, blasted the state’s filing and investigation as “inaccurate” and “distorted” in a statement to CNN Business following the lawsuit.
Wednesday’s walkout aims to “improve conditions for employees at the company, especially women, and in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups,” according to a document shared with CNN Business. Its demands of leadership include an end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, changing hiring and promotion policies to improve representation within the company, and publication of compensation data.
Participants of the walkout are also calling on company leadership to hire a third party to audit Activision Blizzard’s reporting structure, human resources department and executive staff. “It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment, and to propose new solutions to address these issues,” the document said.
In his note to employees, Kotick announced he had hired the law firm WilmerHale to review the company’s policies “to ensure that we have and maintain best practices to promote a respectful and inclusive workplace.” He urged employees to reach out to the law firm’s team led by Stephanie Avakian, a former director of the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement.
“Of course, NO retaliation will be tolerated,” Kotick said. He also said the company would do more to support its workers, creating “safe spaces, moderated by third parties,” for employees to share their issues.
“We are immediately evaluating managers and leaders across the company,” he said. “Anyone found to have impeded the integrity of our processes for evaluating claims and imposing appropriate consequences will be terminated.”
More than 100 Activision Blizzard employees are expected to attend Wednesday’s walkout in person outside the company’s offices in Irvine, California, a Blizzard employee told CNN Business, while over 1,000 others are expected to participate virtually.