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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 publishers in the video game industry. From Overwatch to Diablo to the popular military shooter franchise Call of Duty, Activision Blizzard is the studio behind an established game series.
The company was recently sued by the state of California, specifically the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, over 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 the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing on July 22, 2021, as the culmination of a two-year investigation. The report also mentions a lack of women in leadership positions within the company, as well as the huge pay gap at board level.
Based on the filing, 20% of Activision Blizzard’s workforce is made up of women who have experienced misconduct and harassment for years. According to the report, some examples of misogynistic behavior include:
In the office, women are subjected to ‘cube crawls’ in which male employees drink profusely [amounts] of alcohol while “crawling” their way through various cubicles in the office and often displaying inappropriate behavior towards female employees. Male employees proudly come to work with a hangover, play video games on the job for long periods while delegating responsibilities to female employees, joke about their sexual encounters, talk openly about female bodies and joke about rape.
Female employees are constantly subjected to sexual harassment, including the continued fend off of unwelcome sexual comments and advances by their male co-workers and supervisors, and being groped at the “cube crawls” and other corporate events. High-ranking executives and creators were involved in blatant sexual harassment without repercussions.
In one particularly tragic example, a female employee committed suicide while on a business trip with a male supervisor who had brought butt plugs and lube with him while traveling.
Activision Blizzard recently commented on the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing report.
According to Activision Blizzard, the company values diversity and strives to create a workplace that provides inclusivity for all
Recently, Activision responded to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing report with a lengthy statement calling the Department and its lawsuits “irresponsible behavior by irresponsible state bureaucrats.”
According to the statement, Activision Blizzard values diversity and strives to create a workplace that provides inclusiveness for all. No sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind is tolerated within the company.
However, the current picture painted by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is not that of the current workplace culture. Activision stated in the statement:
We’ve updated our Code of Conduct to emphasize a strict focus on non-retaliation, expanded internal employee reporting programs and channels for violations, including the “QUESTIONNAIRE” with a confidential integrity hotline, and introduced an employee relations team dedicated to the reservations. We have strengthened our commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion and combined our global employee networks to provide additional support. Employees must also undergo regular harassment training and have done so for many years.
According to Activision Blizzard, the company has made tremendous efforts to create fair and rewarding compensation packages and strives to pay all employees fairly and equally.
Hopefully, the judiciary will take appropriate action against those who should be held accountable.
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