The on-going outcry surrounding a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard, as well as the company's incendiary official response, has resulted in development on World of Warcraft stalling and employees organizing a walkout in protest.
The latter has caused the company's shares to drop 9%, which seemingly prompted the first official response from Activision's CEO Bobby Kotick.
While predictable, the fact that the CEO only cared to acknowledge the situation after his shares took a hit is still disappointing. In his carefully manicured letter, Kotick claims that the company will make sweeping changes including with respect to personnel, the introduction of employee support and listening sessions, and altered hiring practices.
Kotick has hired law firm WilmerHale to review company policies and conduct, and he encourages employees to approach WilmerHale with any relevant information and experiences related to harassment, discrimination and unequal treatment.
A pledge for unspecified in-game changes is also included in Kotick's statement. Other than this, the other promises are somewhat vague and likely to ring hollow in no small part thanks to the legal disclaimer at the end of the letter:
This press release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We may, in some cases, use terms such as “predicts,” “believes,” “potential,” “proposed,” “continue,” “estimates,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “plans,” “intends,” “may,” “could,” “might,” “will,” “should” or other words that convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes to identify these forward-looking statements. Such statements are subject to numerous important factors, risks and uncertainties that may cause actual events or results to differ materially from the Company’s current expectations.
All things considered this is too little too late.
We've witnessed time and time again how the carefully manufactured corporate responses to issues surrounding workplace inequality and sexual harassment have translated to little tangible changes, just look at how easily Ubisoft got out of the same situation. Many have pointed out that the honorable move for a CEO during whose tenure such offenses were allowed would be a resignation.
Previously Kotick has come under fire for receiving multi-million dollar bonuses not long after a huge chunk of Activision Blizzard's employees were let go as a result of office closures. Bobby Kotick's full letter can be read here.