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In context: It's been almost a year since workplace harassment allegations plunged Activision Blizzard into a morass of lawsuits, regulatory investigations, and demands for CEO Bobby Kotick to step down. The company's Board of Directors formed a Workplace Responsibility Committee to investigate the allegations.
On Thursday, the Activision Blizzard's Workplace Responsibility Committee turned in the results of its internal investigation to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The probe concluded that the company was not guilty of wrongdoing and did not foster a "fratboy culture" of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation. The finding sparked a flurry of sarcasm on social media.
"Contrary to many of the allegations, the Board and its external advisors have determined that there is no evidence to suggest that Activision Blizzard senior executives ever intentionally ignored or attempted to downplay the instances of gender harassment that occurred and were reported," the Schedule 14A filing reads.
Having conducted a thorough investigation of myself, I have determined that the cookies ate themselves. The crumbs found on my face and hands could've been from any number of cookie like substances that were not in fact cookie's.— ACO Runner for freebies. (@ACOrunner) June 16, 2022
The committee admitted that there were some substantiated instances of gender harassment but found no evidence supporting the conclusion that senior leadership or the Board tolerated or were even aware of the behavior. The filing also outlined actions taken to fix the existing problems but was constantly bombarded with smear pieces from the media.
"While the Board and management have implemented ... steps to continue to improve the workplace, it must be said that the Company has been subject to an unrelenting barrage of media criticism that attempts to paint the entire Company (and many innocent employees) with the stain of a very small portion of our employee population who engaged in bad behavior and were disciplined for it."
The filing and the investigation it discusses will not end the ongoing legal actions. Activision Blizzard has already settled the EEOC lawsuit for $18 million. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing still has active litigation against the company but has been bogged down for a lack of facts. It is also wrangling filings from former employees and an open SEC investigation.