In response to the recent lawsuit filed against their employer by the State of California, which alleges that the company had promoted a ‘frat boy’ workplace culture rife with sexual harassment (to the point where one female employee is said to have taken her own life over the inappropriate behavior of a supervisor), Activsion Blizzard employees are staging a walk out in demand of “[improved] conditions for employees at the company, especially women, and in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.”
Scheduled to take place virtually from 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM PST on July 28th, with a live protest planned at the company’s Irvine, California headquarters from 10:00 AM to 02:00 PM PST, walkout organizers have asked employees unable to attend the in-person events to stop their work between the specified times and boost awareness of the protests through the use of the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout on social media.
In a statement provided to Kotaku, an employee rep said of the protests, “We are encouraging employees to take whatever time off they feel safe to do.”
“Most of us plan to take the full day off (without pay), but we understand some people like contractors and associates, and those who are paid less than they deserve, might not have the ability to do so,” the rep added.
According to the video game news outlet, Blizzard managers have also informed their teams that those who participate in the walkout would see their acts of protest considered as “paid time off”
Organizers also provided Kotaku with a statement of intent, along with a list of five demands, which announced that employees were “holding a walkout to call on the executive leadership team to work with us on the following demands, in order to improve conditions for employees at the company, especially women, and in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.”
These five demands, which feature a heavy focus on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion initiatives, include:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
As for public support, organizers have asked those who wish to donate to their cause to instead consider making a contribution to one of several charities, such as Black Girls Code, Futures Without Violence, Girls Who Code, RAINN, Women In Animation, and Women in Games International.
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