Navigating a Marketplace With a Damaged Reputation
The top executive at Activision Blizzard announced that he would be leaving the company almost two weeks after the video game company was hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit by regulators in California. The president of the Blizzard division of the game company announced his resignation to staff members, and then the company released a public statement.
Blizzard stated that the president would be leaving to pursue other opportunities. Two other executive vice presidents have now been named as co-leaders of the Blizzard Division, both of whom have previously been working on other popular games such as World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. Activision Blizzard claimed it would also be moving to work on the workplace culture because of a lawsuit that was issued by the California Department of Employment and Housing. In the lawsuit, the company was accused of having a negative work environment and a toxic culture where numerous sexual harassment complaints went unresolved for a long period of time.
Additionally, according to the complaint the president himself had known about the rampant sexual harassment issues as far back as 2019. In fact, the president learned that one of the male employees of the company had been sexually harassing a coworker, and decided to only give some verbal counseling to the offending employee instead of taking any sort of action. The lawsuit also states that the women at the game company are often subjected to “cube crawls” where the male employees end up drinking a lot of alcohol while they are crawling their way through the cubicles in the office and engage in inappropriate behavior towards their coworkers.
Furthermore, most of the female employees have also been assigned lower paying or lower level jobs. Last month, the game company hired a new law firm to review the workplace policies, and before he resigned, the president released a statement saying that his successors will be well-suited to help the company create a better work environment for women. In the aftermath of the lawsuit going public, over 2000 both former and current employees of Activision Blizzard have signed an open letter denouncing the way that the company itself, as well as its leaders, have been handling the allegations from the lawsuit.
Furthermore, a number of employees also staged a walk-out recently, both in person and remotely, to protest the lack of care and accountability from their corporate leaders over those sexual-harassment claims. This lawsuit is the aftermath of a two-year investigation into the workplace culture of the game company, which found evidence of female employees being subjected to harassment as well as pay inequalities.
Not only that, but state officials have also accused some of the company’s top executives of allowing male employees to frequently torment their female coworkers. When these types of situations happen, companies should work with regulators and deal with lawsuits privately before issuing any sort of statement that can lead to more backlash from the public as well as employees.