Activision Blizzard CEO issues frank apology for ‘tone deaf’ reaction to sexual harassment claims

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has issued a statement responding to the sexual harassment lawsuit.

The public statement, addressed to all Activision Blizzard employees, thanks those who have come forward with personal accounts for their “courage” and promises the company will “do a better job of listening now, and in the future”.

“Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf,” admits Kotick. “I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.”

“Ensuring that we have a safe and welcoming work environment is my highest priority. The leadership team has heard you loud and clear,” he continues.

“We are taking swift action to be the compassionate, caring company you came to work for and to ensure a safe environment. There is no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind.

“We will do everything possible to make sure that together, we improve and build the kind of inclusive workplace that is essential to foster creativity and inspiration.”

The law firm WilmerHale has been employed to review all policies and procedures.

The statement notes five areas for immediate improvement. Internally, this includes supporting colleagues in each harassment claim; initiating listening sessions and safe spaces for reflection; personnel changes; and changes to hiring practices.

Externally, the Activision Blizzard will also look to remove inappropriate content from their games.

“Your well-being remains my priority and I will spare no company resource ensuring that our company has the most welcoming, comfortable, and safe culture possible,” says Kotick.

You can read the full statement here.

Kotick’s statement follows an open letter to Activision Blizzard leadership signed by thousands of employees, demanding they release a statement to recognise the seriousness of the allegations.

Employees were unhappy with the response from leadership, particularly from executive vice president for Corporate Affairs Frances F Townsend in an internal email who claimed the lawsuit was “distorted and untrue”.

Employees are staging a formal walkout on 28 July in protest.

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