News: Frat boy culture? Activision Blizzard disciplined employees

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Frat boy culture? Activision Blizzard disciplined employees

Compliance chief Fran Townsend vows to create a workplace where people are "not only heard but empowered".
Frat boy culture? Activision Blizzard disciplined employees

The popular video game publisher Activision Blizzard is cleaning up its ranks, with the sanctioning of at least 20 staff members and the departure of more than 20 others. The company has been dealing with allegations of a "frat boy" culture in the workplace in the past three months.

This week, Chief Compliance Officer Fran Townsend addressed the issues head on in a memo, acknowledging employees' "desire to know about the outcome" when misconduct is reported.

"We are working tirelessly to ensure that, moving forward, this is a place where people are not only heard, but empowered," she said, adding that the company has "thoroughly evaluated" its broader compliance, employee relations and investigative procedures, such as handling complaints and communicating with employees.

As a result, the company's ethics and compliance division will hire 19 new full-time staff members in an effort to bolster compliance training and support investigations into workplace concerns.

"We are committed to making meaningful and positive change, and this is just the start," Townsend said.

In July, the state of California lodged a discrimination case against Activision Blizzard over the company's supposedly toxic work environment. Employees have come forward reporting incidents of sexual misconduct and harassment at work, as part of what state officials have called a "frat boy" culture.

Activision Blizzard vowed to take action after it launched an internal probe. This also meant the departure of high-profile members, including J. Allen Brack, president of the Blizzard division, who allegedly knew of the "rampant sexual harassment and sexism" happening at the company even as far back as 2019. However, Brack only supposedly gave one alleged offender a verbal reprimand. On top of this, the US Securities and Exchange Commission has also subpoenaed CEO Bobby Kotick over workplace concerns.

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Topics: Culture, Leadership

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