J Allen Brack addresses Blizzard staff over sexism scandal, Activision doubles down on deflection

Brack: 'I disdain bro culture'


When we came into work this morning, we started wondering where the leaks from inside Blizzard have been. Usually, the company is a sieve for leaks about what’s going on internally. There’s always a memo, and surely, faced with a massive set of sexual harassment and discrimination allegations and a state-backed lawsuit to hold it accountable, the studio has addressed this internally to angry staff.

And yep, it has. Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier published a leaked memo from Blizzard’s J. Allen Brack reportedly issued last night. Obviously, Brack doesn’t actually admit fault and says he can’t comment on the specifics of the case – which by all accounts is exactly what Blizzard should’ve done two days ago and didn’t – but he does stress that the company rejects harassment and wants staff to feel safe coming forward. He specifically insists “claims can be made without fear of retaliation,” likely a nod to one of the more pointed allegations in the lawsuit that women are retaliated against when delivering their complaints up the corporate chain.

Brack then refers to feminist activist Gloria Steinem, calling her a “revered saint” to his family. “I disdain ‘bro culture,’ and have spent my career fighting against it,” he says. “Iterating on our culture with the same intensity that we bring to our games is imperative, with our values acting as our north star.”

We note here that J. Allen Brack is specifically mentioned in the state’s lawsuit; he is characterized as having taken “no effective remedial measures” when it came to the behavior of staffers like Alex Afrasiabi, who was accused by name of multiple harassment infractions. The suit alleges that Brack “had multiple conversations with Afrasiabi about his drinking and [the fact that Afrasiabi] had been ‘too friendly’ towards female employees at company events but gave Afrasiabi a slab on the wrist (i.e. verbal counseling) in response to these incidents.” Brack took the helm of Blizzard from Mike Morhaime almost three years ago.

Meanwhile, the story is on day three of trending across social media as major newspapers, including The New York Times, have picked it up. As we’ve noted, players across Reddit and in-game have been protesting the company’s behavior and response, with at least 28 staffers releasing public statements about the company’s internal problems. Former Blizzard worker Cher Scarlett has issued an open invitation to affected workers to be added as witnesses or victims in the California suit.

Further reading:

Source: Twitter. This article was expanded after publication to note that and how Brack was named personally in the lawsuit.
Axios has published a separated leaked memo. Signed by controversial Activision Chief Compliance Officer Fran Townsend, who has been with Activision-Blizzard only four months while the company is still largely working from home, this memo repeats Wednesday’s corporate claims that the California lawsuit “presented a distorted and untrue” picture of the company and included “factually incorrect” stories, some “from more than a decade ago.” Using terminology very similar to the earlier statement, she calls the lawsuit “truly meritless and irresponsible” and insists that the company is “committed to continuing to maintain a safe, fair, and inclusive workplace.” We note again that Blizzard staff who have witnessed or experience Activision-Blizzard being anything but a safe, fair, and inclusive workplace should get in touch with the folks working on the lawsuit.

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