The State of California vs Activision Blizzard, Inc.
On July 20, 2021, following a two-year investigation by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the State of California filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard. The lawsuit alleges that Activision Blizzard failed to take appropriate action on reports of workplace sexual harassment, creating a toxic culture and an abusive workplace environment conducive to vile behaviors that ran rampant through the company.
You can view the full complaint here.
Since then, gamers and professionals across the gaming industry have rallied behind the Activision Blizzard employees who are taking various actions to fight for change.
How can you, the player, help?
First and foremost, familiarize yourself with the employee demands below. These demands are not part of the lawsuit, but part of an employee-driven movement within the company and community that is being referred to as A Better ABK.
Worker’s Alliance Demands
- An end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, current and future. Arbitration clauses protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution.
- The adoption of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies designed to improve representation among employees at all levels, agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization. Current practices have led to women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination not being hired fairly for new roles when compared to men.
- Publication of data on relative compensation (including equity grants and profit sharing), promotion rates, and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company. Current practices have led to aforementioned groups not being paid or promoted fairly.
- Empower a company-wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit ABK’s reporting structure, HR department, and executive staff. It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment, and to propose new solutions to address these issues.
Players can help by bringing attention to these demands, as well as to the lack of action taken by those the demands are aimed at, alongside ABK employees. Check out the #ABetterABK hashtag on Twitter for messages to retweet or interact with. Just as well, follow @ABetterABK.
Player-driven events such as the mass logout as well as charity streams also bring awareness to the cause.
A few things to keep in mind:
Many employees cannot speak openly right now about their involvement or the actions they are taking help create change in the industry. It’s easy to point fingers at the silent and assume the worst rather than assume their silence is enforced, protecting others, or that they are survivors themselves.
If a Blizzard employee or anyone who is likely to know more than the players about this situation corrects you about any damaging assumptions that have been expressed, pushing the issue or acting like you’re owed more information is not the way to be. We all want answers and to know what is happening behind the scenes, who we can trust, who is standing up for those wronged, and who is sitting this one out. However, anyone who may have that information is not obligated to reveal it no matter how important you may believe it to be.
Does unsubscribing help the employees?
It helps you cope with what is happening. Unsubscribing, in this case, is symbolic at best. Using your subscription to boycott a gaming company because the developers implemented a feature you don’t like is an ideal method of protest. Using your subscription to boycott a gaming company because the wealthy in charge lack human decency is a boycott in vain. Hundreds, even thousands, of players refusing to subscribe is not likely to weaken Bobby Kotick’s wallet. If you think it does, then you have not been paying attention. This form of protest, in this particular case, has a better chance of hurting the employees whose side you’re on than it does of hurting the people you believe you are fighting.
Again, if you want to help the cause…
Use your platform, big or small, to discuss what is happening. Share stories and messages. Tag the appropriate people in your posts. Not finding things to talk about? Search. Go back through your own feed and reshare information you shared last week. Host a community event that raises money for charity while also bringing awareness to ABetterABK. Talk and keep talking.
The people who have not answered the employee demands are expecting this whole thing to blow over. Don’t let it.
Blizzard Watch: It’s been 34 days since Activision Blizzard employees published their demands for change, and management hasn’t acknowledged them
This article covers everything that unfolded in August and includes a lot of links to relevant information.
ABetterABK on Reddit
This is a resource page for the Activision Blizzard player community. I am not an employee of Activision Blizzard or a speaker on behalf of ABetterABK.