Skip to main content
Video game news and analysis. Tips to help you win.
The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Activision Blizzard shareholders vote for public harassment report

(Washington Post illustration; iStock)
Placeholder while article actions load

Activision Blizzard shareholders approved a proposal from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli requesting that the company publicly report on its efforts to stop workplace discrimination and harassment during an annual meeting held Tuesday. DiNapoli’s proposal, first raised in February, requested that Activision Blizzard share information including compensation data, the company’s total number of sexual harassment settlements, its progress around more quickly resolving harassment and abuse complaints, and total pending complaints.

The vast majority of shareholders also approved the election of 10 directors to the board, despite a minority of shareholders advocating against the reelection of directors, including embattled CEO Bobby Kotick as well as long-standing members Brian Kelly and Robert Morgado. Shareholders also voted to approve the company’s executive compensation packages, with 88 percent voting yes.

Microsoft enters agreement to respect Activision Blizzard unionization

DiNapoli, the state comptroller, told The Washington Post in a statement: “Shareholders’ majority vote spoke loudly. Activision Blizzard needs to restore investor confidence and increase transparency on how it handles workplace harassment and discrimination. We expect swift action from the company on our concerns.”

Last Thursday, the video game company released an update saying that after an internal investigation, it found “no evidence to suggest that Activision Blizzard senior executives ever intentionally ignored or attempted to downplay the instances of gender harassment that occurred and were reported.” It also said investigators had not found any evidence that a senior executive or employee concealed information from the board of directors. The report affirmed that there were “some substantiated instances of gender harassment,” but cleared senior leadership and the board of directors from association with those incidents.

A proposal to nominate an employee representative to the board of directors — a request that was backed by organizing employees — was denied, with only 5 percent of voting in favor. At Tuesday’s shareholders meeting, a recording from an employee at Activision-owned Raven Software was played, asking that an employee be appointed to the board after being voted in democratically by non-leadership. The employee asked to help make the board more aware of employee concerns. Shareholders approved of hiring PricewaterhouseCoopers as Activision’s accounting firm, with 96 percent voting yes. PricewaterhouseCoopers did not immediately return a request for comment.

Shareholders didn’t ask questions, and the meeting concluded after roughly 20 minutes.

‘Scorched earth’ and big profits: How embattled gaming titan Bobby Kotick outlasts his opponents

“It is clear to me from these voting results that shareholders do not see the need to incur any meaningful changes to the operational structure, other than collaborating with the NYS comptroller,” said Joost van Dreunen, a lecturer on the business of games at the New York University Stern School of Business. “The outright rejection of allowing an employee rep on the board sends a signal that they are not ready for true change. The only chance to resolve [Activision’s] endemic issues will be once it assumes Microsoft’s playbook post-acquisition. It is a missed opportunity to lead from the top.”

On June 13, Microsoft, which is acquiring Activision Blizzard for nearly $69 billion in a deal pending regulatory approval, announced a labor neutrality agreement with the union Communications Workers of America, which has been helping video game workers organize. Activision Blizzard announced Friday it was entering bargaining negotiations with a group of Raven Software quality assurance testers. Those testers have spent months demanding recognition of their union, the Game Workers Alliance, which is supported by the CWA.

Loading...