Activision Blizzard employees are stepping up to ensure the company takes real action amid alarming allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, a toxic work environment, and other issues.
Last week Bloomberg reported that California was suing the video game developer for its failure to address allegations levied against the company properly. Activision Blizzard’s response to the state’s lawsuit calling it “meritless and irresponsible,” didn’t help matters. Publications have already said they would not write about the company’s gaming news. Now, the company’s employees are staging a mass walkout and strike after calling out Activision Blizzard for its statement to send a resounding message.
Kotaku reports that employees will take part in a mass walkout virtually from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT on Wednesday, July 28, and it will be called Activision Blizzard Walkout for Equality. There will also be a live event staged at the Blizzard campus in Irvine, California, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. According to the website, employees participating in the formal protest call on Activision’s “leadership to improve conditions for women, particularly women of color, transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.
Employees who cannot attend physically are encouraged to participate via social media using the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout. As of right now, 50 or more employees are expected to participate in person, while many more expect to let their voices be heard virtually.
An employee rep speaking with Kotaku said, “We are encouraging employees to take whatever time off they feel safe to do. Most of us plan to take the full day off (without pay), but we understand some people like contractors and associates, and those who are paid less than they deserve, might not have the ability to do so.”
The announcement of the protest came with a statement of intent addressed to Activision Blizzard along with a list of demands, and it reads:
Given last week’s statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, and the many stories shared by current and former employees of Activision Blizzard since, we believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.
As current Activision Blizzard employees, we are holding a walkout to call on the executive leadership team to work with us on the following demands, in order 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.
- An end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, current, and future. Arbitration clauses protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution.
- The adoption of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies designed to improve representation among employees at all levels, agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization. Current practices have led to women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination not being hired fairly for new roles when compared to men.
- Publication of data on relative compensation (including equity grants and profit sharing), promotion rates, and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company. Current practices have led to the aforementioned groups not being paid or promoted fairly.
- Empower a company-wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit ABK’s reporting structure, HR 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.
Organizers for the protest also left a message for members of the gaming community who do not work for Activision Blizzard who want to participate and show solidarity on social media using the #ActiBlizzWalkout hashtag plus blue heart emoji. They are also asking participants to donate money to any of the following organizations below:
- Black Girls Code – https://www.blackgirlscode.com
- Futures without Violence – https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org
- Girls Who Code – https://girlswhocode.com
- RAINN – https://www.rainn.org
- Women In Animation – https://womeninanimation.org
- Women in Games International – https://www.getwigi.com
Photo: SOPA Images / Getty