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Activision Internal Investigation Finds Almost Nothing Wrong

An Activision Blizzard logo hangs in front of a futuristic grid background.

Picture: Activision Blizzard / Kotaku

Practically yr after an explosive lawsuit by the California Division of Truthful Employment and Housing kicked off a firestorm of sexual harassment and discrimination allegations at Activision Blizzard, a Board of Administrators working group investigating the corporate has launched its findings. Led by a 25-year veteran of the Name of Responsibility writer, the group concluded there was by no means any “systemic situation with harassment, discrimination or retaliation” at Activision Blizzard.

“Opposite to most of the allegations, the Board and its exterior advisors have decided that there is no such thing as a proof to recommend that Activision Blizzard senior executives ever deliberately ignored or tried to downplay the cases of gender harassment that occurred and had been reported,” the Office Duty Committee wrote to shareholders in a June 16 SEC submitting. “Whereas there are some substantiated cases of gender harassment, these unlucky circumstances don’t help the conclusion that Activision senior management or the Board had been conscious of and tolerated gender harassment or that there was ever a systemic situation with harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.”

These findings are aimed squarely at refuting allegations within the DFEH lawsuit and people raised in a November 2021 Wall Avenue Journal investigation. The latter reported that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick did not report a 2018 settlement with an alleged rape sufferer at Name of Responsibility: Vanguard maker Sledgehammer Video games to the corporate’s Board.

The report additionally claimed Kotick threatened to have his feminine assistant killed in a 2006 voicemail and interfered to forestall the co-head of Name of Responsibility: Black Ops studio Treyarch, Dan Bunting, from being fired for sexual harassment. An Activision spokesperson advised the Wall Avenue Journal on the time that Kotick had at all times stored the Board knowledgeable, apologized to the assistant for the hyperbolic language, and that Bunting was correctly disciplined when the incident occured. Nevertheless, shortly after the Wall Avenue Journal requested in regards to the matter, Bunting resigned from the corporate.

The Board’s abstract says its investigation was primarily based on electronic mail communications, contemporaneous notes, and different supply paperwork, in addition to contemporary interviews with present and former staff. However the Board members don’t go into way more element in regards to the extent of the investigation, the way it was carried out, or what uncooked information was furnished to outdoors consultants like former EEOC chair Gilbert Casellas, who concluded that there was “no widespread harassment, sample or follow of harassment, or systemic harassment at Activision Blizzard or at any of its enterprise items [between September 1, 2016 and December 31, 2021].”

It’s unclear what number of whole present and former staff had been interviewed as a part of the investigation, why it was restricted to solely the final 5 years, or how a lot Casella was paid. Casella and Activision Blizzard didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The abstract can also be onerous to sq. with the landmark $18 million settlement with the EEOC for current victims of harassment and discrimination on the firm. “What we’ve come to comprehend over the previous a number of months is that there are lots of truths about our firm—particular person and collective, experiential and data-driven—and typically they are often troublesome to reconcile,” the Board writes. It doesn’t elaborate on the small print or nature of these opposing “truths,” however goes on to complain about being wrongly maligned by an “unrelenting barrage of media criticism.”

The remainder of the group’s findings are devoted to ahead trying statements about new greatest practices being put in place like a brand new Ethics & Compliance and a zero-tolerance harassment coverage. In some instances, these initiatives seem to have been a response to worker calls for marshaled collectively by the ABK Employees Alliance. And in others, they’ve fallen in need of these asks. Present and former Activision Blizzard employees are nonetheless calling on the corporate to instantly contain it within the determination making course of for stamping out harassment and discrimination on the firm.

Some staff have already gained that proper legally by way of a profitable union election for QA builders at its Raven Software program studio. At the moment within the midst of bargaining their first contract, Microsoft, set to purchase Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, just lately introduced it might stay impartial on union issues as a part of its pitch to regulators tasked with approving the acquisition.

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