President stepping down following lawsuit serve
[Update: Schreier now also reports that Blizzard’s head of HR, Jesse Meschuk, is also “no longer at the company,” according to an Activision Blizzard spokesperson.]
Company president J. Allen Brack is leaving Blizzard Entertainment. An email from Activision Blizzard President Daniel Alegre delivered to company staff this morning stated that Brack was “leaving the company to pursue new opportunities.” The news was first broken by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, before Activision Blizzard then confirmed Brack’s departure in an official statement.
“To all members of the Blizzard Community,” begins the lengthy announcement. “We want to let you know about an important leadership change at Blizzard Entertainment. Starting today, J. Allen Brack will be stepping down as the leader of the studio, and Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will co-lead Blizzard moving forward.”
“Both leaders are deeply committed to all of our employees; to the work ahead to ensure Blizzard is the safest, most welcoming workplace possible for women, and people of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background; to upholding and reinforcing our values; and to rebuilding your trust. With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusivity, Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion, and a dedication to excellence.”
Brack’s departure comes in the wake of a two-year investigation by The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, uncovering evidence of racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and toxic work culture at the World of Warcraft developer. The DFEH has since filed suit against Blizzard, seeking better implementation of workplace protection standards, alongside pay adjustments, benefits, and lost/back pay for the studio’s women employees.
New leadership is a positive step forward in regard to reforming the toxic culture and “old guard” mentality referenced in the DFEH lawsuit. But still, Activision Blizzard needs to do far, far more over the coming weeks, months, and years to restore faith in its brand, trust in its workplace, and secure the safety and well-being of its employees.
While the president of Blizzard stepping down no doubt makes for Great Media Optics, it is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the work that must now be done to root out and eradicate the deeply embedded sexism, racism, and discrimination that, according to the investigation’s findings, is freely exercised within the offices, boardrooms, cubicles, and “Cosby Suites” of Blizzard Entertainment.