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Girls Who Code drops Activision Blizzard partnership over ‘failure’ of company leadership

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Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization that works to increase the number of women working in computer science fields, has ended its partnership with Activision Blizzard because of the ongoing allegations of “assault, harassment, and a toxic work environment” at the company.

“Our priority has and always will be to stand up for women and other underrepresented groups in tech and ensure that they are given the support and stability they need to actively thrive as they pursue a career in computer science,” Girls Who Code said in a statement.

“The news about Activision proves that our priorities are fundamentally misaligned. We cannot in good conscience continue to work with a company that is so antithetical to our own values.”

Girls Who Code said the nature of the tech industry means that it is only working to work with companies that are willing to address the impact of systemic racism, sexism, discrimination, and harassment on company practices and workplace culture. It works with partners to find solutions to their shortcomings, but “there is a line, and the allegations made against Activision have crossed that line.”

Our priority has and always will be to stand up for underrepresented groups in tech, and to ensure that they are given the support they need to thrive at work.This news proves that our priorities are fundamentally misaligned, and we cannot continue to work with them.November 18, 2021

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The two-week Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program, open to sophomore, junior, and senior girls, gives participants exposure to jobs in tech, introduces them to women in the field, and gives them access to “a supportive sisterhood of girls in tech.” Blizzard has been a sponsor of the program since 2018, but it’s far from the only one, or the only heavyweight: 2021 partners include Bank of America, AT&T, Walmart, Apple, and P&G, plus tech companies Dell, Logitech, Humble Bundle, Rockstar, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Riot, Zynga, Ubisoft, and Lisa Su, who is not actually a tech company but the president and CEO of AMD.

“We stand in solidarity with those at Activision who bravely came forward about their experiences and hope they see the justice and accountability they richly deserve,” Girls Who Code said. “We also stand with their colleagues who have suffered the collateral consequences of such a failure of company leadership.”

Activision Blizzard has been engulfed in controversy since California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against it in July, alleging widespread discrimination, sexual harassment, and a “frat boy” workplace culture. The situation grew worse for the company, and especially CEO Bobby Kotick, earlier this week following new allegations that Kotick had been aware of the allegations for years, and had also threatened to have an assistant killed at one point.

The Girls Who Code statement comes just one day after similar criticism of Activision Blizzard from Xbox boss Phil Spencer and Sony Interactive president and CEO Jim Ryan. Roughly 1,600 Activision Blizzard employees have also signed a petition calling for Kotick to step down.

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