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Activision Blizzard CEO apologizes for ‘tone deaf’ response to equal pay, harassment claims

  • July 28, 2021

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick apologized for what he called the video game publisher’s “tone deaf” response to allegations of violating equal pay laws and sexual harassment.

According to a copy of the note sent to employees Tuesday and emailed to USA TODAY, Kotick said the company has hired a law firm to investigate its policies and procedures to ensure Activision Blizzard promotes a “respectful and inclusive” workplace.

“Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf,” said Kotick. “It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way. I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.”

filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over violations of equal pay laws and fostering a “sexist culture” within the workplace. 

Top leaders within the company responded soon after in emails to employees, according to Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier, citing copies of the messages. Among them was a statement from executive Fran Townsend, calling the lawsuit “meritless.”

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The responses prompted an open letter from the company’s employees backing the lawsuit. “To put it clearly and unequivocally, our values as employees are not accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership,” read the letter published by multiple outlets.

Employees are reportedly planning to walk out Wednesday to protest the company’s work environment, and have encouraged support by sharing posts on social media with the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout.

Kotick also said Activision Blizzard will take immediate actions including personnel changes, updating hiring practices to promote a more diverse selection of candidates, and listening sessions for employees to share ideas of how to improve the company’s culture.

“We will do everything possible to make sure that together, we improve and build the kind of inclusive workplace that is essential to foster creativity and inspiration,” said Kotick.   

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

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