Activision Blizzard has completed its internal investigation over whether the company’s executives turned a blind eye to the instances of sexual harassment and discrimination alleged in last summer’s explosive lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The Board and its external advisors have concluded that there isn’t any evidence that supports this theory, having written to shareholders in its latest SEC filing dated June 16 that it found nothing to indicate that Activision Blizzard senior executives “ever intentionally ignored or attempted to downplay the instances of gender harassment that occurred and were reported,” going so far as to suggest that there was never “a systemic issue with harassment, discrimination or retaliation” at the company. Activision Blizzard also seems to feel that it is the victim of an “unrelenting barrage of media criticism” that is trying to paint the entire company in a bad light despite there only being a “very small portion” of bad apples.
“The review of contemporaneous documentation and statements by relevant individuals shows that media criticism of the Board and Activision Blizzard senior executives as insensitive to workplace matters is without merit,” a portion of the SEC filing reads. “Activision Blizzard senior executives responded in a timely manner and with integrity and resolve to improve the workplace. While there are some substantiated instances of gender harassment, those unfortunate circumstances do not support the conclusion that Activision senior leadership or the Board were aware of and tolerated gender harassment or that there was ever a systemic issue with harassment, discrimination or retaliation.”
These findings are aimed squarely at refuting allegations in the DFEH lawsuit and those raised in a November 2021 Wall Street Journal investigation. The latter reported that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick failed to report a 2018 settlement with an alleged rape victim at Call of Duty: Vanguard maker Sledgehammer Games to the company’s Board.
The report also claimed Kotick threatened to have his female assistant killed in a 2006 voicemail and interfered to prevent the co-head of Call of Duty: Black Ops studio Treyarch, Dan Bunting, from being fired for sexual harassment. An Activision spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal at the time that Kotick had always kept the Board informed, apologized to the assistant for the hyperbolic language, and that Bunting was properly disciplined when the incident occured. However, shortly after the Wall Street Journal asked about the matter, Bunting resigned from the company.