Scandal-tormented CEO Bobby Kotick will remain at the helm of Activision Blizzard for another year after his resignation following serious allegations of harassment and sexism scandals. A report on how to deal with these disputes is gaining acceptance.
A story of controversy and scandals
Thrilling video games were once considered Blizzard’s product with the widest reach, but in recent years, one scandal has followed another. The publisher doesn’t seem to make a single mistake: Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Activision Blizzard was caught in the crossfire amid the Hong Kong protests, followed by several sexism scandals, a wave of resignations and, at the end of 2021, a debate on trade unions. The fact that there were many disappointing new products and delays in between all of this was all but forgotten when a bizarre diversity ranking and aggressive in-game monetization in Diablo Immortal made bad news in May and June 2022.
Bobby Kotick is directly involved in many of these controversies. In particular, the CEO has hidden the clarification of the numerous allegations of sexism and harassment, as already evident from a report at the end of 2021 Wall Street newspaper emerged. After the serious allegations, Kotick recorded that he was considering resigning, but only if Activision Blizzard was unable to resolve the issues quickly.
Apparently this happened according to Kotick, as he ran for re-election to the board of directors at the annual general meeting and was confirmed as chief executive for another year with 533,703,580 votes. The owners of 62,597,199 shares voted against his re-election. The election was overshadowed by isolated efforts by some company employees and shareholders to replace the unwelcome CEO: these plans have apparently failed for the time being; unless Microsoft’s proposed acquisition results in leadership changes.
Shareholders demand a report, Activision Blizzard sees no blame
Another item on the meeting’s agenda, meanwhile, was the vote on a report on cases of abuse and harassment. The request, filed by a New York City pension fund, requires Activision to provide Blizzard with information such as employee compensation data, the number of out-of-court settlements in sexual harassment cases, the company’s progress in resolving complaints of harassment and abuse and the total number of pending complaints published, as initially the Washington Post reported. Activision Blizzard’s board of directors previously advised against shareholders from supporting the report; however, they voted in favor of implementation with 379,308,934 against 183,876,515 votes.
However, the proposal and vote are not binding on the board – it is therefore entirely possible that Activision Blizzard will continue to ignore the request. Opposite to my box the company indicated that the application would be carefully considered.
Shareholders voted in favor of the shareholders’ non-binding proposal regarding the preparation of a report on the Company’s work on the job. Consistent with our ongoing commitments, we will carefully evaluate the proposal to improve our future disclosures. Activision Blizzard remains deeply committed to ensuring a respectful and welcoming work environment for all colleagues.
Just last week, an internal investigation by senior management concluded that Activision Blizzard had done nothing wrong. According to the report, there has never been a systematic problem of harassment, discrimination or retaliation within the company – this is in direct contradiction to the numerous reports, court cases and allegations in recent months. As a result, criticism was massive, employees and those affected described the investigation as a self-righteous and contentless staging.