Activision Blizzard board urges shareholders to vote against annual harassment report

Jon Yelenic, Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022 5:14 pm

Activision Blizzard’s board of directors has unanimously urged its shareholders to not issue an annual report on workplace harassment, abuse, and discrimination to the state of New York. In an SEC filing sent to shareholders on April 29, the board claimed that issuing the report would not be “in the best interests of the company or its shareholders.”

The public report would require the publisher, which saw a wave of workplace misconduct and abuse allegations last year, to publish an annual report outlining the company’s efforts to prevent abuse, harassment, and discrimination against its employees. The report would consist of the following details:

  • Amounts paid by the company in settlements related to sexual abuse, harassment, or discrimination disputes over the past three years, as well as how many total disputes there were
  • Metrics showing how the company is actively reducing the amount of time it takes to resolve complaints of sexual abuse, harassment, or discrimination
  • Total number of sexual abuse, harassment, or discrimination complaints pending resolution
  • Data showing employee pay and hours worked as required by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing

“The Board believes that, rather than diverting energy and resources toward creating yet another report, we should continue to directly respond to employee concerns,” the filing read. 

Activision’s stated desire to handle employee concerns internally echoes rhetoric used by company leadership early in Call of Duty studio Raven Software’s unionization efforts. Following the formation of Raven’s Game Workers Alliance (GWA) union in January, the publisher stated “we believe that a direct relationship between managers and team members allows us to quickly respond and deliver the strongest results and opportunities for employees.”

The board also claimed that its present efforts to combat workplace misconduct–such as creating a zero-tolerance policy, as well as implementing anti-harassment/discrimination training programs–effectively negate the need to issue a report: “To date, we have taken many significant steps to improve our workplace and address concerns identified by [the state of New York].”

Additionally, the board expressed concern over supplying the data requested by the report, stating that “disclosing metrics like those requested in the proposal would not meaningfully inform the Company’s shareholders,” due to them being presented “without context.” 

Finally, the board alleged that disclosing the data requested by the state “could potentially reveal more information about an individual employee’s allegations than that employee would wish to reveal, while excluding that data at an employee’s request could lead to public reports that are misleading and not helpful to shareholders.”

Shareholders will vote on whether to issue the report or not at Activision’s annual board meeting set for June 21. In addition to Activision, the state of New York has also requested harassment and discrimination reports from Starbucks, which is undergoing a large-scale unionization effort across the United States, and Tesla, the Elon Musk-owned car-maker that recently had 46 harassment lawsuits filed against it.

This filing comes just 10 months after Activision was sued by the state of California for allegedly maintaining a toxic “frat boy” workplace culture, as well as sweeping many of its employee’s complaints under the rug over a period of years. The company has also faced intense scrutiny for its board’s protection of CEO Bobby Kotick throughout the scandal, who is alleged to have known about incidents of sexual assault and harassment at the company without taking action on them. 

As mentioned before, the company has also been combatting a burgeoning unionization effort at Raven Software since last year. Throughout the past few months, Activision’s conduct towards its organizing workers has drawn the ire of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Just last week, an NLRB complaint alleged that Activision was attempting to silence discussions amongst workers related to working conditions at the company. © 2024 | All Rights Reserved.