Last week, the state of California filed a formal lawsuit against video game publisher Activision Blizzard on the grounds of severe and rampant harassment against women within the company. This lawsuit was backed up by a two-year investigation that cited stories from affected employees of a “frat house” work culture that involved heavy drinking, irresponsibility, and power harassment, with one female employee taking her life due to the suffering she endured.
Following the announcement of the lawsuit, an Activision Blizzard spokesperson said, “We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone.”
“There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind.”
They added that the case used “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.” It was with this particular instance that many of the company’s employees took offense.
Over 300 employees at Activision Blizzard’s office are staging a walkout today in protest of both the harassment itself and management’s handling of the case, as well as out of a desire for improved employee benefits.
“We believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership,” the organizers said in a press statement.
“We know people across the company who have been complaining about these issues for decades or who have made allegations and have not been listened to,” said Valentine Powell, a software engineer and one of the strikers. “The lawsuit and the company’s response to it was the match that lit the powder keg.”
Solidarity with the Activision Blizzard workers who are walking off the job, both physically and virtually, to protest the horrendous revelations from last weeks lawsuit. We stand with you! #ActiBlizzWalkout https://t.co/ClIeFrkP20
— Game Workers of Southern California (@GWSoCal) July 27, 2021
The strikers have four primary demands: end mandatory arbitration clauses in employee contracts, adopt policies to improve diversity, equity and inclusion, publish compensation data, promotion rates and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities, and hire a third party to audit the company’s structure, human resources department and executives.
For those who can’t attend the protest in person, there will also be a virtual protest online through the Twitter hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout. Those preparing in the hashtag have also requested that people not cross the metaphorical “picket line” by logging into Activision Blizzard games like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty.