There is confusion between senior executives from Activision Blizzard on how to respond to allegations made by a California state agency, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, of mistreating and discriminating against company workers in the workplace.
The whole affair is putting the group in difficulty, which has already undergone several public retaliation such as a protest sit-in within World of Warcraft or the cancellation of certain promotional events related to Blizzard games. There are also many employees and former employees who have publicly expressed their solidarity with the women victims of abuse.
Given the situation, some Activision Blizzard executives have seen fit to send messages to all employees to give their point of view, but without keeping a common line.
For example the president of Blizzard, J. Allen Brack, wrote that the behaviors described by the lawsuit are unacceptable and that harassment of any kind is not tolerable, affirming the freedom for all to express themselves without fear of retaliation. He then invited those who had been victims of harassment or discrimination to contact him to resolve the problem.
Rob Kostich, Activision’s president, also wrote a message to employees calling the allegations disturbing and stating that the behaviors described do not reflect Activision’s values.
Neither message confirms what is written in the lawsuit, but both go in the same direction of reassuring employees.
But then came the message of Fran Townsend, the Chief Compliance Office of Activision Blizzard, to mix the cards and create some confusion. The executive attacked the lawsuit head on, saying it gives a distorted view of the company, because it tells stories that are old, out of context and distorted in fact. According to him, some of the reported events date back more than ten years.
Townsend then recounted her experience in Activision Blizzard, in which she has been for about four months, and how she found a company ready to welcome her and make it grow. The woman then recalled the initiatives taken by the multinational to promote the diversity andinclusiveness and he concluded by defining the cause without merit and irresponsible.
According to Jason Schreier of Bloomberg, the first to share Townsend’s message online, some Activision Blizzard employees are furious at what she wrote. To many it seemed a real denial of the problem, given that in the meantime the testimonies of ex-employees who corroborate the accusations, collected in the World of Warcraft subreddit, have multiplied.