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Activision Blizzard boss reportedly considering quitting if workplace issues aren’t fixed “with speed”

Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick has reportedly told senior management that he’d consider quitting if he can’t fix workplace issues “with speed”. According to the Wall Street Journal, Kotick made the comments during a meeting with Blizzard executives, where he “stopped short” of saying that he would be stepping down, though he left the possibility open if culture problems at Activision Blizzard aren’t fixed promptly.

During another meeting with Activision executives, Kotick was made aware that some employees wouldn’t be satisfied unless he resigned, the Wall Street Journal adds. The Activision Blizzard CEO allegedly said he was ashamed of some of the incidents that have occurred during his 30-year tenure, further apologising for how unfolding problems have been handled.

Kotick’s reported comments follow a separate story from the Wall Street Journal that allege the CEO knew about and suppressed reports of sexual misconduct over the years. Over 1,700 staffers subsequently signed a petition calling for Kotick’s resignation in response, with leading figures at PlayStation and Xbox also reportedly expressing concern over what’s been raised in the report.

As reported by Bloomberg, Xbox boss Phil Spencer told staff that he is “evaluating all aspects” of the company’s relationship with Activision Blizzard and “making ongoing proactive adjustments”. A Microsoft spokesperson tells us that Bloomberg’s story is accurate, supplying additional comment from Spencer.

“I personally have strong values for a welcoming and inclusive environment for all of our employees at Xbox,” Spencer says. “This is not a destination but a journey that we will always be on. The leadership at Xbox and Microsoft stand by our teams and support them in building a safer environment for all.”

In a separate story, Bloomberg reported that PlayStation division boss Jim Ryan told staff that the company had reached out to Activision Blizzard to express “deep concern” and to ask how they plan to “address the claims” of the original WSJ report.

Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit filed in July by the state of California (since expanded for QA and customer service contractors) alleging years of discrimination and harassment. Since then, CEO Bobby Kotick has called the company’s initial response “tone deaf”, employees have staged a walkout, Blizzard president J Allen Brack has left, and the ABK Workers Alliance has demanded change at the company. The lawsuit is ongoing; follow the latest developments here.

In September, an agency of the US federal government opened an investigation into Activision Blizzard’s response to sexual misconduct and discrimination complaints from its employees, as part of which Kotick has reportedly been subpoenaed. The company is also facing a separate unfair labour practice suit alleging “worker intimidation and union busting” filed by a workers’ union, also in September. In another, separate development, Activision Blizzard reached an agreement with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “to settle claims and to further strengthen policies and programs to prevent harassment and discrimination”. In a subsequent letter to employees, the company has announced an end to forced arbitration, a $250 million initiative to improve diversity, and a major pay cut for Kotick.

A new report published this November now alleges Bobby Kotick knew about and suppressed reports of sexual misconduct. Kotick has responded with an official statement saying the Wall Street Journal’s article “paints an inaccurate and misleading view of our company, of me personally, and my leadership.” In reply, Activision Blizzard’s board of directors declared it “remains confident” in Kotick’s leadership.

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