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Employees at Activision Blizzard are staging a walkout to protest the publisher’s leadership’s response to being sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing for sex discrimination in the workplace. This information comes from reports by Bloomberg and IGN.
The two-year investigation by the state of California discovered cases of sexual discrimination, largely targeting women, that have impacted pay and mental health (and in one distressing case, contributed to a woman’s suicide). In a response, former George W. Bush homeland security advisor Fran Townsend, now executive vice president for corporate affairs at Activision Blizzard, said in statement to employees that the suit presented, “… a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories.”
The employees in the walkout, which will congregate at Blizzard’s main campus in Irvine, California from 10 a.m. 2 p.m. Pacific on July 28, have a list of four demands:
- 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 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.
This follows an open letter, signed by over 2000 Activision Blizzard employees, calling the company’s response to the suit “insulting” and noting that it encourages a culture that punishes abusers for coming forward.
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