Today, as reported by The Washington Post, Activision Blizzard shareholders voted in favor of New York State Comptroller’s, Thomas DiNapoli’s, request for the company to publicly report on its past actions and future efforts on the company’s alleged workplace culture of sexual harassment and discrimination. Proposed by DiNapoli in February, the report would cover information surrounding the numerous lawsuits, such as: Activision Blizzard’s “compensation data, the company’s total number of sexual harassment settlements, [Activision Blizzard’s] progress around more quickly resolving harassment and abuse complaints, and total pending complaints.” This approval to publicly reveal information comes a month after Activision Blizzard urged shareholders to vote against the annual report, citing the spending for the report could be better spent on “directly [responding] to employee concerns.” However, shareholders also overwhelmingly voted in disapproval of “a proposal to nominate an employee representative to the board of directors” that would “make the board more aware of employee concerns.” DiNapoli told The Washington Post:
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.
This move by shareholders comes less than a week after Activision Blizzard’s internal investigation cleared the company of any wrongdoing. Within the report, Activision Blizzard asserts “appropriate disciplinary action” was taken against perpetrators and that there was “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.” The report continues with, “[the investigation] also has not unearthed any evidence, directly or indirectly, suggesting any attempt by any senior executive or employee to conceal information from the Board…Activision Blizzard senior executives responded in a timely manner and with integrity and resolve to improve the workplace.”
All in all, the report served as a bid for board members to win re-election after some shareholders called for the removal of the 10 board members in the election, including CEO Bobby Kotick. In the same meeting as the vote for the annual report, a vast majority of shareholders approved the re-election of the board members and their compensation packages. In response to the outcomes of the meeting, Joost van Dreunen, a lecturer on the business of games at the New York University Stern School of Business, stated the following:
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…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.