Activision Blizzard Inc. said it had hired a law firm to investigate complaints of sexual harassment and gender-pay discrimination in the workplace, hours before a planned employee walkout over the company’s reaction to allegations made in a recent lawsuit.
“Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf,” Chief Executive Bobby Kotick said in a Tuesday night statement. “It is imperative that we acknowledge all perspectives and experiences and respect the feelings of those who have been mistreated in any way. I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.”
The suit, which was filed by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing last week, accuses the largest U.S. videogame publisher by market value of paying female employees less than their male counterparts and providing them with fewer opportunities to advance. It also alleges that Activision ignored complaints by female employees of blatant harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
Activision has said it would fight the charges and that the lawsuit included distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of its past.
The company’s initial response to the lawsuit angered some employees. On Wednesday, current and former Activision Blizzard employees planned a virtual walkout as well as one in-person at the Blizzard campus in Irvine, Calif., to call for changes to the company’s culture. People across the gaming community, in solidarity with the campaign, used the hashtag #ActiBlizzWalkout in social-media posts.