A lawsuit against Activision Blizzard was filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DEFH) last week, accusing the company of sexual harassment, discrimination, and abuse, among other things. Since then, the company’s responses to the suit have been far from ideal, saying at first that the DEFH’s report was “distorted and false”, while company executive Fran Townsend has doubled down on those statements in an email that was sent out to all company employees but eventually became public.
In response to the aforementioned responses to the lawsuit, a large number of Activision Blizzard employees have penned and signed an open letter to the company’s management. The letter, which was shared by Kotaku, had over 800 signatories at first, but more have joined in since its publishing, with the number currently standing at 1000.
The letter calls out Activision Blizzard and Fran Townsend’s responses to the ongoing lawsuit, calling them “abhorrent and insulting” and stating that the values of the signatories are “not accurately reflected in the words and actions” by the company’s leadership. The letter calls for “official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations”, for Fran Townsend to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network, and for active and significant steps to be taken to “have a safe place to speak out and come forward.”
You can find a full copy of the open letter below:
To the Leaders of Activision Blizzard,
We, the undersigned, agree that the statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, are abhorrent and insulting to all that we believe our company should stand for. To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership.
We believe these statements have damaged our ongoing quest for equality inside and outside of our industry. Categorizing the claims that have been made as “distorted, and in many cases false” creates a company atmosphere that disbelieves victims. It also casts doubt on our organizations’ ability to hold abusers accountable for their actions and foster a safe environment for victims to come forward in the future. These statements make it clear that our leadership is not putting our values first. Immediate corrections are needed from the highest level of our organization.
Our company executives have claimed that actions will be taken to protect us, but in the face of legal action — and the troubling official responses that followed — we no longer trust that our leaders will place employee safety above their own interests. To claim this is a “truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit,” while seeing so many current and former employees speak out about their own experiences regarding harassment and abuse, is simply unacceptable.
We call for official statements that recognize the seriousness of these allegations and demonstrate compassion for victims of harassment and assault. We call on Frances Townsend to stand by her word to step down as Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network as a result of the damaging nature of her statement. We call on the executive leadership team to work with us on new and meaningful efforts that ensure employees — as well as our community — have a safe place to speak out and come forward.
We stand with all our friends, teammates, and colleagues, as well as the members of our dedicated community, who have experienced mistreatment or harassment of any kind. We will not be silenced, we will not stand aside, and we will not give up until the company we love is a workplace we can all feel proud to be a part of again. We will be the change.