August 18 This story has been updated to correctly attribute a quote to an Activision Blizzard spokesperson.
Around 2,000 employees at Activision Blizzard have signed an open letter that criticises the company’s leaders for their responses to last week’s California state lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, alleges that Activision Blizzard enables a “frat boy” office culture which has resulted in female staff experiencing unequal pay, discrimination, and sexual harassment.
In response to the lawsuit, a company spokesperson told CNN that it did not reflect the workplace culture of Activision Blizzard today and described it as “inaccurate” and “distorted”. Activision Blizzard doubled down on this stance with an internal statement sent to staff by executive Frances Townsend, in which she says the lawsuit is “factually incorrect, old, and out of context”.
In the open letter, employees have called these statements from Activision Blizzard as “abhorrent”, “insulting”, and “unacceptable. Bloomberg first reported that nearly 1,000 employees had signed the letter, but that number has now grown to 2,000 in just 24 hours, according to CNN.
“To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership,” the letter reads. “We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry.
“Categorizing the claims that have been made as ‘distorted, and in many cases false’ creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.”
The letter also says that employees “no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests.”
It also makes a number of demands, including the removal of Townsend from the publisher’s Women’s Network group.
“We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees – as well as our community – have a safe place to speak out and come forward.”
Activision Blizzard is yet to comment on the open letter.