For readers of this blog, the Activision Blizzard sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit has likely been on their radar. And, to the surprise of almost no one, it looks like the company has finally agreed to change course.
Over the summer, the company faced a lawsuit from both the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It was originally filed by the EEOC, and then the state agency joined. Both agencies filed the lawsuit over allegations of entrenched and pervasive sexual harassment and illegal discrimination at all levels of the organization.
The end of the lawsuit
In September, Activision Blizzard agreed to settle the case. The settlement included an $18 million financial component, but also significant institutional changes. Immediately, the company is creating an expedited performance review system that will focus on equal opportunity and fairness. Over the next year or so, the company will also change its training programs, internal hiring practices and update their HR policies. They also hired a new CPO, Chief People Officer to ensure equity, fairness and ensure the pervasive sexual harassment and illegal discrimination stops.
Mandatory arbitration agreements
In another move to change their company’s culture, Activision Blizzard, is waiving enforcement of their mandatory arbitration agreements. Prior to this recent announcement, employees were forced to arbitrate their sexual harassment and illegal discrimination claims, often with no appeal rights and always under full confidentiality. This allowed the company to hide their culture of sexual harassment behind confidentiality and avoid any true accountability or liability from victims. And, since this was a requirement of employment, potential employees would simply not be hired if they did not agree to the mandatory arbitration agreements.
It is hard to change company culture
For our Houston, Texas, readers, a key takeaway from the Activision Blizzard saga is that company cultures are hard to change, even if it is pervasive sexual harassment in the workplace. It took the weight of both the state and federal government to get this company to change, and that is often what it takes; an advocate willing to stand up to employer bullies.