The well-known video game publisher Activision Blizzard has been sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing over a toxic workplace culture that has led to years of alleged harassment of women in the workplace.
Activision Blizzard is one of the most recognized publishing giants in the video game industry. From Overwatch to Diablo to the popular military shooter franchise Call of Duty, Activision Blizzard is the studio behind a well-established game series.
The company was recently sued by the state of California, specifically the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, based on the reports of widespread sexual harassment.
Activision Blizzard is a “frat boy” workplace that is the “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women”
According to Bloomberg, the report was filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing on July 22nd, 2021, as the culmination of a 2-year-long investigation. The report also mentions a lack of women in leadership positions within the company, as well as the enormous pay discrepancy at the executive level.
Based on the filing, 20% of the workforce at Activision Blizzard is women who have been facing misconduct and harassment for years. According to the report, some examples of misogynistic behaviors include:
In the office, women are subjected to “cube crawls” in which male employees drink copious [amounts] of alcohol as they “crawl” their way through various cubicles in the office and often engage in inappropriate behavior toward female employees. Male employees proudly come into work hungover, play video games for long periods of time during work while delegating their responsibilities to female employees, engage in banter about their sexual encounters, talk openly about female bodies, and joke about rape.
Female employees are subjected to constant sexual harassment, including having to continually fend off unwanted sexual comments and advances by their male co-workers and supervisors and being groped at the “cube crawls” and other company events. High-ranking executives and creators engaged in blatant sexual harassment without repercussions.
In a particularly tragic example, a female employee committed suicide during a business trip with a male supervisor who had brought butt plugs and lubricant with him on the trip.
Activision Blizzard recently responded to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing report.
According to Activision Blizzard, the company values diversity and strives to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone
Recently, Activision responded to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing report with a lengthy statement calling the Department and its suits “irresponsible behavior from unaccountable State bureaucrats.”
According to the statement, Activision Blizzard values diversity and strives to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no tolerance for any kind of sexual misconduct or harassment within the company.
However, the present picture painted by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing isn’t that of the current workplace culture. Activision mentioned in the statement:
We’ve updated our Code of Conduct to emphasize a strict non-retaliation focus, amplified internal programs and channels for employees to report violations, including the “ASK List” with a confidential integrity hotline, and introduced an Employee Relations team dedicated to investigating employee concerns. We have strengthened our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and combined our Employee Networks at a global level to provide additional support. Employees must also undergo regular anti-harassment training and have done so for many years.
According to Activision Blizzard, the company has put tremendous effort into creating fair and rewarding compensation packages and strives to pay all employees fairly and equally.
Hopefully, the judiciary system will take the proper course of action against those who should be held accountable.