Employees at Activision Blizzard, a major game publisher, have staged a walkout in protest of sexual misconduct and other labor abuses alleged against the company. This walkout comes on the heels of a Washington Post article that reveals Activision Blizzard’s CEO not only knew about these abuses for years, but actively aided in covering them up and, in some cases, was himself a perpetrator. Now, employees are demanding radical changes at the company, including the resignation of the CEO himself.
What is Activision Blizzard?
For those unfamiliar, Activision Blizzard is one of the largest and most profitable video game publishers in the world. They are responsible for producing and distributing popular titles such as Call of Duty, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Candy Crush and Overwatch, among others. They had an estimated annual revenue of more than $8 billion in 2020, with more than $4 billion of that income coming from its Call of Duty franchise alone.
What Were the Allegations Against Activision Blizzard?
This past July, the California Attorney General’s office sued Activision Blizzard for its failure to address widespread sexual harassment and discrimination within its country. The lawsuit made a number of claims against the company, ranging from paying women less than their male counterparts, to accusations of workplace drinking and harassment of women in their cubicles (in what were known as “cube crawls”). In at least one case, a female employee allegedly committed suicide after her supervisor shared nude pictures of her with other male employees.
What Has the New Article Revealed?
In addition to all of the other claims originally brought against Activision Blizzard, this new article reveals something that had been previously suspected but never confirmed: that CEO Bobby Kotick was already well aware of the sexual harassment and abuse at his company. Rather than addressing the issue, he actively assisted in covering up accusations of sexual harassment and assault at the company. In addition, Kotick himself is alleged to have committed a number of offenses on his own, including one incident where he reportedly called an ex-assistant and threatened to have her killed.
What Are the Workers Demanding?
With their walkout, Activision Blizzard employees are demanding numerous reforms to the company’s business structure and practices. Foremost amongst their demands are an end to mandatory arbitrations, which have often been used to cover up sexual misconduct at the company. They are also asking for Kotick to step down from his position as CEO. The board of directors has formally stated that it is backing Kotick and denies all allegations against him, although pressure is mounting for the company to address its rampant issues.
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