With the the company is still mired in lawsuits spurred by historical allegations of harassmentActivision Blizzard used an interview with the Financial Times to reveal that a number of employees were “out” and more “disciplined” as a result of the affair.
Speaking with FT (paywalled)Activision Blizzard Compliance Officer Fran Townsend says, “It doesn’t matter your rank, your job. If you have committed any kind of misconduct or if you are a leader who has tolerated a culture that is not in line with our values, we will take action.
She says that as a result of the publicized lawsuit “more than 20 people left Activision Blizzard”, while “more than 20 people faced other types of disciplinary action.” She did not name any of the affected employees.
Speaking of leaders and values, in the wake of the DFEH lawsuit becoming public for the first time earlier this year, Townsend sent an e-mail to the staff describing it as “without merit”, a decision so widely criticized that it was specifically mentioned as a cause of staff disengagement, while she was also forced to step down as a sponsor of the company’s women’s network. Townsend also deleted his personal Twitter account after criticizing whistleblowers and blocking Activision Blizzard employees.
In an earlier and more public position before her appointment in March as Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Corporate Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer of Activision Blizzard, Townsend served as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism during the Bush administration, where she “went to defend the Bush administration’s use of torture, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and forced nudity.”
The FT interview follows an email Townsend sent to all employees at the company, which you can read below:
As one of the world’s largest and most influential companies, our future depends on fostering a corporate culture where everyone feels safe and heard. It comes with the responsibility of earning the trust of our employees that when they speak up, we will do the right thing. We need to earn the confidence of our team that when they speak, they will be heard. I have listened quietly over the past few months to your comments, concerns and observations. I’m grateful to everyone who shared their views – especially those who challenged us to do better. It is important to me that you know how seriously I take this and how committed I am to the next steps that we will take together. We work tirelessly to ensure that in the future it is a place where people are not only heard, but also held accountable.
We have a committed team dedicated to this work. However, listening to the comments over the past few months, it is clear to me that we need to do more, and with renewed urgency. We have expanded our compliance team and already have even bigger initiatives to enable significant improvements in our corporate culture.
Working with Jen Brewer and the team, we took an in-depth assessment of our broader compliance, employee relations and investigative procedures, including how we handle complaints and communicate with our team members who are involved. And today I would like to highlight our progress on all of these goals, as well as some changes to create a more responsible workplace and culture.
Among the comments we received, there were several clear and concrete recommendations from many of you and our Ethics and Compliance team. Among them, three key themes emerged:
– First, don’t hesitate to fire or discipline those who violate our policies and do not contribute to a positive culture that treats all of our team members with respect. Second, be transparent, not only about our investigative processes, but also about the actions we take. Third, invest resources and people in ethics, culture and training.
First of all, I wanted to give you an idea of the work we have done to investigate all the complaints and concerns raised by our team members:
– Ongoing Investigations: Nothing is more important to me – and the entire management of Activision Blizzard – than making everyone feel safe and equal in this place of work. There is no room for harassment, discrimination or retaliation in this business.
In recent months, we have received an increase in reports through various reporting channels. People bring to light concerns, ranging from years ago to the present day. We welcome these reports, and our team has made every effort to investigate them, using a combination of internal and external resources. Based on the information received in the initial report, they are classified into different categories and resources are allocated to prioritize the most serious reports first. As part of various resolved reports, more than 20 people have left Activision Blizzard and more than 20 people have faced other types of disciplinary action.
We continue to review any issues or reports raised through the many channels available. But it bears repeating: reports can be submitted anonymously, and there is no tolerance for retaliation of any kind.
Second, we have started working to improve the way we handle complaints, including the restructuring of two teams, Ethics and Compliance and Employee Relations, to more effectively and efficiently handle complaint investigations.
– Leadership of the Ethics and Compliance team: I am very pleased to announce the promotion of Jen Brewer to the position of Senior Vice President, Ethics and Compliance. Jen has already skillfully led the compliance function for many years. Most importantly, she has helped me reinvent how our investigation, training and employee relations functions can work better together, and the resources these teams will need to improve our business.
– Way To Play Heroes: These are the unsung heroes of the Ethics and Compliance program. They volunteer their time to build bridges – helping other members of our team navigate their reporting options, speaking up, and advising us on how we can strengthen the ethics and compliance program. Heroes are essential to our success. We are expanding the program by adding more heroes and investing resources to better support their work. I am pleased to announce that effective today, Heroes will receive one additional vacation day per quarter in recognition of their contribution to this very important work.
– Investigation team resources: It is essential to ensure that we have the capacity to properly review the reports. In the past two months, we have already added three full-time positions to cope with the workload. Going forward, we plan to expand this significantly, adding 19 full-time positions to our global ethics and compliance team, which includes dedicated investigative team members, including the ability to take live calls, as well as data analysis and communications, to help us understand how we are doing and help us better communicate the results of our work. Two of these roles will be specifically dedicated to overseeing investigations related to the EMEA and APAC regions.
– Investigation team structure: we combine our investigation groups into a centralized unit within a central ABK ethics and compliance department, which will be separate from business units and other groups like human resources or employee relations. This will allow investigators to be more efficient and coordinated, aligned with the approach and enable consistent decision making. It also allows us to tailor resources more appropriately rather than looking at how to distribute team members among disparate units.
– Employee Relations Team: In addition to improving the way we investigate issues or complaints, we need to think about how best to communicate with members of our team affected by these issues. Together with Director of Human Resources Julie Hodges, this will be a key objective for the Employee Relations team. This will allow us to better link our improved investigative process to a recommended action, be it discipline, additional training, or other next steps. Our goal is to expand our team of people with considerable human resources experience, ensuring that we handle complaints and concerns with the care and attention they deserve.
– Transparency: We are working on additional documents that document our investigation procedures and describe what our team members who report misconduct can expect during the investigation process. We also strive to ensure that communications are transparent and urgent to all of our team members involved in investigations. More so, we want to provide data reports in order to stay accountable, even though we can’t always share what’s going on behind the scenes. We know there is a desire to know the outcome when misconduct is reported. Sometimes there are privacy reasons that we cannot share. But where we can, we’ll share more information with you. We will also regularly provide you with aggregated data on survey results.
– Improve training: we are preparing to triple our investment in training resources. Our intention is to provide meaningful, real, scenario-based live and online training required for all of our team members, including executives – covering witness training, speaking, and manager training. recognize concerns and understand their obligations to escalate emergency situations. and appropriately.
We are committed to making meaningful and positive change, and this is just the start. We will share additional updates in the weeks and months to come. We know there is always more work to be done. We are committed to continuing this work. Please continue to share your ideas and suggestions, however you wish to send them. We will work hard every day to earn your trust. Together, let’s make sure that we always have a safe, inclusive and ethical workplace that makes us all proud.
Update – 7:20 p.m. ET: Title has been updated.
Article source https://kotaku.com/activision-blizzard-has-fired-more-than-20-employees-ov-1847896656