After employee protests and California lawsuits, Activision Blizzard announced a management reorganization on Tuesday, accusing the “Call of Duty” game maker of creating a toxic work environment and discriminating against women.
The company said in a statement that the head of Blizzard’s entertainment division, J. Allen Brack, will leave “to seek new opportunities” and will be replaced by company veterans Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra.
“With their years of industry experience and a deep commitment to integrity and inclusiveness, I am confident that Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion, and dedication to excellence,” said COO Daniel Alegre.
A week ago, workers went out to protest against sexism and harassment because some people on the Internet called for resistance to video games.
After the state lawsuit accused female employees of widespread discrimination and harassment, the company has pledged to conduct far-reaching reviews of its workplace practices.
The lawsuit described misconduct in detail, describing male employees who allegedly groped female colleagues who would “openly talk about female bodies and jokingly rape.”
Some employees and activists claimed that the company’s response to the case was insufficient, which led to the July 28 protests.
Organizers stated that a statement signed by 2,600 employees called for an end to mandatory arbitration for harassment cases, improved recruitment practices and the establishment of a diversity and fairness working group.
In recent years, people have increasingly complained about the treatment of women in the industry.
Activision has promised to review its workplace conditions and descriptions of women in its popular games.
Tuesday’s reorganization affected Blizzard, one of the three operating divisions of the California-based company.
The statement stated that Oneal and Ybarra will become Blizzard’s joint leaders and “share the company’s development and operational responsibilities.”
“Both of them are leaders with high character and integrity, and are committed to ensuring that our workplace is the most inspiring and welcoming environment in order to achieve outstanding creativity and adhere to our highest game development standards.”
The company reiterated its commitment to improve conditions in its quarterly earnings report.
CEO Bobby Kotick said: “We remain highly concerned about the well-being of our employees and are committed to doing everything possible to ensure that our company has a welcoming, supportive and safe environment in which all our team members Can thrive.”
Activision pointed out that it has retained an external law firm and will increase its staff as part of “acting quickly to ensure a safe and welcoming work environment for all employees.”
The update pointed out that profit in the second quarter increased by 51% year-on-year to US$876 million (approximately Rs 64.9 billion), while revenue increased 19% to US$2.3 billion (approximately Rs 170.5 billion).
The company said it is attracting more users to use its popular games, such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush Saga.
Last week, Kotic said that the Santa Monica-based company “will continue to investigate every allegation of gender discrimination by Activision” and “will take decisive action without hesitation.”
Kotick said that after employees and players lodge complaints, content criticized as sexist in the Activision game will also be deleted, and a “listening session” will be organized to allow employees to “speak freely and share areas that need improvement.”
Similar allegations are also directed at the French video game giant Ubisoft and the American League of Legends manufacturer Riot Games.
Ubisoft pledged last year to make “structural changes” to eliminate allegations of sexual assault and harassment by game publisher managers, and its portfolio includes Assassin’s Creed.
Earlier this year, Riot Games stated that an independent review found no evidence to support CEO Nicolo Laurent’s allegations of sexual misconduct.