The CEO of Activision Blizzard has admitted that the company’s combative response to a disturbing sexual harassment suit was “tone deaf” — and is reportedly giving some employees time off to protest against their own company.
“Our initial responses to the issues we face together, and to your concerns, were, quite frankly, tone deaf,” Bobby Kotick wrote in a Tuesday evening email to employees that was obtained by The Post. “I am sorry that we did not provide the right empathy and understanding.”
Kotick’s repentant letter came the night before Activision Blizzard employees are due to walk out from work in protest of the company’s “abhorrent” response to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by the state of California.
Employees of Blizzard — the division of the company responsible for “World of Warcraft” where some of the worst misconduct allegedly took place — will be given paid time off to attend the protest, according to the Verge.
An Activision Blizzard spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about reports of paid time off for employees.
The state of California’s lawsuit, filed last week, accused Activision Blizzard — which also makes games like “Call of Duty” and “Guitar Hero” — of allegedly fostering a “frat bro” culture full of rape jokes, crude comments and groping that even drove one female employee to suicide.
When news of the suit broke, Activision Blizzard came out swinging, telling The Post that it was full of “distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past.”
Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard executive Fran Townsend — a former Bush administration Homeland Security senior advisor — sent out an internal note telling employees that the suit “presented a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old and out of context stories — some from more than a decade ago,” according to Bloomberg.
In a letter that racked up more than 2,600 signatures, Activision Blizzard employees slammed Townsend by name and called the company’s overall response to the suit “abhorrent and insulting.”
Now Kotick — who is pocketing a $155 million pay package this year — is making amends.
“The leadership team has heard you loud and clear,” he wrote. “We are committed to long-lasting change.”
In addition to apologizing for the company’s combative response, Kotick pledged to fire any managers found to retaliate against or impede misconduct investigations and to remove unspecified “inappropriate” content from the company’s games.