Update: Blizzard senior software engineer Valentine Powell says the World of Warcraft leadership team will pay employees for the time they spend participating in Thursday's walkout.
"Our leadership on the WoW team has worked with us over the last week to respond and start taking action," Powell tweeted (opens in new tab). "In addition to this message, crafted in large part by the non-men across our team, our leadership has also agreed to pay us for the time we are taking off for our walkout and committed to allowing leads and managers to participate in the strike without fear of recrimination. I see this as the first step toward them being willing to speak with their actions."
Additionally, Axios reports that Activision Blizzard as a whole will grant extended paid time off to employees participating in Thursday's walkout.
Activision Blizzard employees have announced plans to stage a walkout on July 28 to protest the company's response to a lawsuit alleging discrimination, sexual harassment, and a "frat boy" culture at the company. The call for a work stoppage comes as an open letter (opens in new tab) condemning company leadership and calling for "compassion for victims" has now surpassed 3,000 signatures.
"Given last week’s statements from Activision Blizzard, Inc. and their legal counsel regarding the DFEH lawsuit, as well as the subsequent internal statement from Frances Townsend, and the many stories shared by current and former employees of Activision Blizzard since, we believe that our values as employees are not being accurately reflected in the words and actions of our leadership," the employees said in a statement posted by Blizzard Watch.
The call for a work stoppage also includes four demands that the employees say are required "to improve conditions for employees at the company, especially women, and in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups."
- An end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, current and future. Arbitration clauses protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution.
- The adoption of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies designed to improve representation among employees at all levels, agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization. Current practices have led to women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination not being hired fairly for new roles when compared to men.
- Publication of data on relative compensation (including equity grants and profit sharing), promotion rates, and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company. Current practices have led to aforementioned groups not being paid or promoted fairly.
- Empower a company-wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit ABK’s reporting structure, HR department, and executive staff. It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment, and to propose new solutions to address these issues.
Because of Covid-19 restrictions, employees taking part in the walkout will gather at the main gate of the Blizzard campus, rather than in the campus proper, from 10 am until 2 pm PT on July 28. People working from home are also encouraged to participate by stopping work and sharing the #ActiBlizzWalkout (opens in new tab) hashtag. The hashtag is already picking up steam as people use it to share their own experiences and express support for current and former Activision Blizzard employees.
Wednesday looks poised to be a much larger and more visible walkout than the one that followed Blizzard's harsh punishment of former Hearthstone Grandmaster Chung 'blitzchung' Ng Wai following his 2019 call for the liberation of Hong Kong, especially given the social media component. Current and former employees continue to speak out against Activision Blizzard's internal culture online, and the number of signatories to the open letter calling out the company's response to the sexual harassment lawsuit has more than doubled since yesterday and continues to grow.
Supporters of the walkout are also encouraged to donate to one of the following charities:
- Black Girls Code (opens in new tab)
- Futures without Violence (opens in new tab)
- Girls Who Code (opens in new tab)
- RAINN (opens in new tab)
- Women In Animation (opens in new tab)
- Women in Games International (opens in new tab)
I've reached out to Activision Blizzard for comment on the planned walkout and will update if I receive a reply.