We are just a month away from the one-year anniversary of Activision Blizzard facing a lawsuit from the State of California regarding its workplace culture. It was described as a “frat boy” space, with women facing discrimination and harassment. This had gone long unaddressed by higher-ups at the company, and several either actively taking part or ignoring it outright. After 11 months of lawsuits, reports, big departures, and a groundswell of organizing from its employees, you’d think the higher-ups who are watching as public sentiment around the company nosedive would have maybe had some introspection on the entire situation, and would want to do right by the workers on the ground floor making the games that make them money. But this is the same group of people who voted to keep CEO Bobby Kotick around despite mountains of evidence of complicity and active involvement in the poor treatment of Activision Blizzard’s workers. So of course, shareholders declined to give an employee representative a seat at the table.
As Washington Post reports, Activision Blizzard’s shareholders approved a New York State Comptroller proposal requesting the company publicly report its efforts to combat the workplace discrimination and harassment we’ve been hearing about for the past year. That’s all well and good. It’s when it gets to the reelection of ten board directors that things go predictably wrong. Ten directors, including Kotick, were reelected, despite pushes from some shareholders against it. On top of this, 88 percent of the board voted to approve executive compensation packages. All of these things are predictable, as suits in power will do anything to keep that power.
Given all of the above, what comes next is also probably predictable, as a company only finds itself in the situation Activision Blizzard is if they don’t care about their workers to begin with. Only five percent of shareholders voted to nominate an employee representative to the board, despite support and pushes for this from workers. There were no follow-up questions, and the meeting ended after just over 20 minutes.
This is why, even when Activision Blizzard leadership says things like it will avoid crunch in Overwatch 2’s seasonal model, it can’t be blindly trusted. While I believe there are folks at Blizzard who want to do right by their developers, people at the top have proven time and time again they don’t have their best interests at heart. This was an easy opportunity to show that you’re ready to hear about the workplace culture you’ve cultivated, and only five percent of shareholders were willing to offer workers a voice on the board But what else is to be expected from shareholders of a company that claims after 11 months of public fallout it hasn’t done anything wrong?