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Employees and investors are calling for Activision’s CEO to resign amid reports that he knew for years about sexual harassment and rape allegations at the company

More than 1,000 Activision Blizzard employees have signed a petition calling for CEO Bobby Kotick to resign. ...
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick
Activision CEO Bobby Kotick.

  • Activision CEO Bobby Kotick knew for years about claims of sexual misconduct at his company, the WSJ reported.
  • More than 1,000 Activision employees have since signed a petition calling for Kotick to resign.
  • Xbox head Phil Spencer said Microsoft is "evaluating" its relationship with the "Call of Duty" publisher.

Activision's longtime CEO Bobby Kotick reportedly knew for years about a variety of claims of sexual harassment and rape at his company.

A huge new investigation by the Wall Street Journal details several specific examples of harassment and rape at Activision. Kotick was not only aware of those claims but, in a least one instance, reportedly intervened to keep a male staffer who was accused of sexual harassment despite the company's human resources department recommending he be fired.

In the wake of the report, more than 1,000 current Activision Blizzard employees have signed a letter calling on Kotick to resign.

"We, the undersigned, no longer have confidence in the leadership of Bobby Kotick as the CEO of Activision Blizzard," the letter says. "The information that has come to light about his behaviors and practices in the running of our companies runs counter to the culture and integrity we require of our leadership — and directly conflicts with the initiatives started by our peers. We ask that Bobby Kotick remove himself as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and that shareholders be allowed to select the new CEO without the input of Bobby, who we are aware owns a substantial portion of the voting rights of the shareholders."

And Activision employees aren't alone in calling on Kotick to resign — a group of Activision investors, albeit a small percentage of overall investors, are echoing the sentiment.

"It's clear that the current leadership repeatedly failed to uphold a safe workplace — a basic function of their job," Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) Investment Group director Dieter Waizenegger told The Washington Post this week. "Activision Blizzard needs a new CEO, board chair and lead independent director with the expertise, skill set and conviction to truly change the company's culture," he said. 

Additionally, the heads of both Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox issued statements internally. 

PlayStation head Jim Ryan criticized Activision's response to the article. "We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation," he said in an email obtained by Bloomberg.

Xbox leader Phil Spencer took his response one step further: Xbox is "evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and making ongoing proactive adjustments," the email from Spencer to staff, also obtained by Bloomberg, said. 

Microsoft confirmed the email's veracity to Insider, and shared the following statement from Spencer: "I personally have strong values for a welcoming and inclusive environment for all of our employees at Xbox. 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."

When asked for comment regarding calls for Kotick to resign, Activision representatives pointed to the statement published by Activision's board earlier this week and said the sentiment stands: "The Board remains confident that Bobby Kotick appropriately addressed workplace issues brought to his attention," the statement said. 

The Journal's report on Activision is the latest in an ongoing reckoning at the blockbuster video game publisher.

The State of California sued the company this summer over allegations that female Activision employees face "constant sexual harassment," from "having to continually fend off unwanted sexual comments" to "being groped." When employees report issues to human resources and management, the lawsuit claimed, no action is taken.

The suit — filed on July 20 to the Los Angeles Supreme Court — followed a two-year investigation conducted by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing. It claims "Call of Duty" maker Activision fosters a "pervasive frat boy" culture where women are paid less for the same jobs that men perform, regularly face sexual harassment, and are targeted for reporting issues.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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