A new report from Kotaku claims that more than two dozen employees have been fired or disciplined following an internal investigation into the company.
Activision Blizzard announced that it is cleaning house and firing dozens of employees following an internal investigation. The company has also disciplined a number of people, including CEO Bobby Kotick. Read more in detail here: blizzard activision.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Townsend explained that the majority of misconduct occurred during off-site gatherings involving alcohol, but that it would still be addressed because of the workplace consequences. She also noted that a distinction was made between patterns of misconduct that required immediate termination and one-off instances that could be rectified with disciplinary action and training. She claimed that they included many game developers and a few supervisors, but none of the company’s board or senior management, despite the fact that no names were provided for legal reasons.
Financial Times/Francis Townsend
It is what it is, and we name it as we see it. It makes no difference what your position or job is. We’ll take action if you’ve engaged in misbehavior or if you’re a leader who has condoned a culture that isn’t compatible with our principles. The effect on the company isn’t taken into account.
The internal letter went on to echo Bobby Kotick’s strongly worded statement during this year’s second quarter financial results call, in which he called for Activision to become a company that leads by example, saying that the company was committed to increasing transparency, tripling its investment in training resources, and hiring 19 full-time roles for its ethics and compliance team.
Letter to Employees by Francis Townsend
As one of the world’s most powerful and influential corporations, our success relies on cultivating a workplace culture in which everyone feels secure and heard. That comes with the duty of gaining our workers’ trust that if they speak out, we’ll listen and act appropriately. We must gain our team’s trust by demonstrating that they will be listened when they speak out. I’ve been quietly listening to your comments, worries, and observations over the past several months. I appreciate everyone who voiced their opinions, particularly those who pushed us to do better. It’s critical that you understand how seriously I take this and how dedicated I am to the next steps we’ll take together. We’re working hard to make this a place where individuals are not just heard, but also empowered in the future.
We have a dedicated team working on this project. However, after listening to comments over the last several months, it’s obvious to me that we need to do more, and with a greater sense of urgency. We’ve grown our compliance staff and have even more projects in the works to help us make significant changes to our company’s culture.
We carefully reviewed our wider compliance, employee relations, and investigation processes, including how we handle allegations and communicate with the members of our team who are engaged, working with Jen Brewer and the team. And today, I’d want to highlight our progress toward all of these objectives, as well as some improvements that will help us create a more responsible workplace and culture.
Several obvious and practical suggestions from many of you and our Ethics & Compliance team have been among the feedback we’ve received. Three main themes arose from them:
– First and foremost, don’t be afraid to fire or punish employees who break our rules or fail to contribute to a healthy culture that values all members of our team. Second, be open and upfront about our investigative procedures as well as our actions. Third, devote money and personnel to ethical, cultural, and training initiatives.
First, I’d want to give you an idea of the work we’ve been doing to look into all of the allegations and concerns made by our team:
– Ongoing Investigations: Nothing is more essential to me – or to the entire Activision Blizzard leadership team – than ensuring that everyone in our workplace feels safe and equal. Harassment, discrimination, or retribution have no place in our organization.
In recent months, we’ve seen an uptick in the number of reports we’ve received via different reporting methods. Concerns from years past to the present are being brought to light. We are grateful for these complaints, and our team has been investigating them using both internal and external resources. They are classified to various categories based on the information obtained in the first report, and resources are given to address the most severe complaints first. More than 20 people have left Activision Blizzard as a result of different settled complaints, while another 20 have faced other kinds of disciplinary action.
We continue to investigate any problems or complaints received via the many avenues accessible to us. But it’s worth repeating: reports may be filed anonymously, and retribution of any sort is not tolerated.
Second, we’ve started working to enhance how we handle complaints, including reorganizing two teams, Ethics & Compliance and Employee Relations, to process complaints more quickly and effectively.
– Leadership of the Ethics and Compliance Team: I am delighted to announce Jen Brewer’s elevation to Senior Vice President, Ethics and Compliance. Jen has been in charge of the compliance department for many years. More significantly, she has aided me in reimagining how our investigative, training, and employee relations departments may collaborate more effectively, as well as the resources those teams will need to improve our business.
– Way To Play Heroes: These are the unsung heroes of the Ethics & Compliance program. They provide their time to create bridges by assisting other members of our team in navigating their reporting choices, advocating for speaking out, and advising us on how to improve the Ethics & Compliance program. Our success depends on the Heroes. We’re growing the program by adding more Heroes and devoting additional resources to further support their efforts. I am happy to announce that Heroes will get one extra vacation day each quarter, starting immediately, in recognition of their efforts to this critical job.
– Investigation Team Resources: It’s essential that we have the resources to thoroughly investigate complaints. We’ve already added three full-time jobs to help with the burden in the last several months. We plan to significantly scale this going forward, adding 19 full-time roles to our overall Ethics & Compliance Team, including team members dedicated to investigations, including the ability to take live calls, as well as data analytics and communications, to help us understand how we’re doing and better communicate the results of our work. Two of those positions will be devoted to supervising investigations in the EMEA and APAC areas, respectively.
– Investigation Team Structure: We are merging our investigations groups into a single centralized unit under the ABK Ethics & Compliance Department, which will be distinct from business units and other organizations such as Human Resources and Employee Relations. This will help investigators to be more efficient and coordinated, as well as to be more aligned in their approach and make consistent decisions. It also enables us to expand resources more effectively rather than having to think how to distribute team members across different units.
– Employee Relations Team: We need to think about how to connect with members of our team who are impacted by these problems, in addition to enhancing how we examine complaints or allegations. This will be a major emphasis for the Employee Relations team, which will work closely with Chief People Officer Julie Hodges. This will make it easier for us to connect our enhanced investigation process to a suggested action, such as punishment, further training, or other next actions. Our aim is to expand our staff of human resources professionals, ensuring that complaints and issues are handled with the care and attention they deserve.
– Transparency: We’re working on new documents that will detail our investigative processes and what members of our team who report wrongdoing should anticipate throughout the investigation. We’re also trying to make sure that any members of our team who are engaged in investigations get clear and timely notifications. Even though we can’t always disclose what’s going on behind the scenes, we want to offer data reporting so we can stay responsible. When misbehavior is reported, we understand that people want to know what happens next. There are instances when we are unable to disclose information due to privacy concerns. However, when possible, we will provide you with additional information. We’ll also provide you aggregate statistics on investigation results on a regular basis.
– Improving Training: We are planning to increase our training resources investment. Our goal is to provide relevant, real-world, scenario-based live and online training for all members of our team, including executives, covering topics such as bystander training, speaking up, and training managers to recognize concerns and understand their obligations to escalate situations quickly and appropriately.
We are dedicated to bringing about significant and good change, and this is just the beginning. In the following weeks and months, we’ll provide more information. We are well aware that there is always more work to be done. We intend to keep doing what we’re doing. Please continue to give us your thoughts and recommendations, in whichever format you choose. Every day, we will strive to gain your trust and confidence. Let’s work together to make sure we always have a safe, inclusive, and ethical workplace that we can all be proud of.
While the other investigations and legal procedures will take time to complete, these steps show that the firm is dedicated to implementing the company-wide changes announced in August. While the four requests made by workers in July were not fulfilled, Townsend admitted in her interview with the Financial Times that further changes were on the way, saying that “Kotick and the Board essentially handed me a blank check.”
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