Today, the ABK Workers Alliance (A Better Activision Blizzard) announced a new walkout is happening today, following a massive Wall Street Journal report. This walk out is being staged to demand the removal of CEO Bobby Kotick, who was largely the subject of the WSJ report. The report alleges Kotick knew about the workplace issues within Activision Blizzard, and in some cases subverted HR investigations.
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick told an employee he would have her killed. He kept an exec from being fired after a sexual harassment claim. He didn't tell his board of alleged rapes and other misconduct. Our @WSJ investigation @benfritz @saraheneedleman : https://t.co/Q4t24qWxxC— Kirsten Grind (@KirstenGrind) November 16, 2021
We have instituted our own Zero Tolerance Policy. We will not be silenced until Bobby Kotick has been replaced as CEO, and continue to hold our original demand for Third-Party review by an employee-chosen source. We are staging a Walkout today. We welcome you to join us.— ABetterABK 💙 ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) November 16, 2021
There’s a lot going on in the report, written by WSJ’s Kirsten Grind, Ben Fritz and Sarah E. Needleman. It alleges documents show that Kotick has known about various sexual harassment (and other) cases for years, misrepresenting information to Activision Blizzard’s board of directors, ignoring other internal reports, settling matters outside the company and in one case disregarding an HR recommendation to fire Treyarch co-head Dan Bunting.
Another notable part of the report provides background to Blizzard co-head Jennifer Oneal’s recent departure. Her resignation came not long after being appointed to the new role (itself a response to the initial California lawsuit), and the WSJ report alleges Oneal sent an internal message accusing Activision Blizzard of paying her less than the male co-lead, expressing little faith in the workplace environment turning around successfully, and recounting her own experience with harassment earlier in her career.
Kotick issued a message to Activision Blizzard’s staff not long after the article was published, denying the report outright. You can read the message on Activision Blizzard’s website. Not long after that, the ABK Alliance announced its own “zero tolerance policy,” thus the current walkout.
This latest turn of events followed an earlier message from Activision Blizzard, outlining the steps the company is supposedly taking to address the matter. Obviously, now that message is being considered in a very different light. A similar group at Ubisoft has also recently taken to more aggressive and public action in response to the situation over there.
Update: Since this piece was published, the Activision Blizzard Board of Directors released a statement on the matter. You can read it for yourself via this hyperlink, but long story short the Board appears to be "confident in Bobby Kotick's leadership." If there are further updates on the matter you'll find them here, or in a separate story.