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Activision Blizzard shareholder calls cultural reform plans 'deficient' and 'inadequate'

Activision Blizzard shareholder SOC Investment claims the company's plan to reform its culture in the wake of widespread misconduct allegations is "deficient" and "inadequate."

Game Developer, Staff

August 11, 2021

2 Min Read

Activision Blizzard shareholder SOC Investment claims the company's plans to reform its culture in the wake of widespread misconduct allegations are "deficient" and "inadequate."

As reported by Axios, a letter penned by SOC executive director Dieter Waizenegger suggests the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft maker hasn't outlined any changes that would address key issues and usher in meaningful change.

Waizenegger specifically criticizes the company for failing to put forward changes that "would in any way alter the current process for filling vacancies either to the board of directors or to senior management."

They also say Activision Blizzard hasn't taken any action that would see compensation reclaimed from executives who are found to have engaged in or enabled abusive practices, and described the hiring of law firm Wilmer Hale to conduct an internal review as "deficient" -- a sentiment that's shared by those behind the recent Activision Blizzard walkout.

"The announced review by Wilmer Hale is deficient in a number of ways: This firm has a sterling reputation as a defender of the wealthy and connected, but it has no track record of uncovering wrongdoing, the lead investigator does not have in-depth experience investigating workplace harassment and abuse, and the scope of the investigation fails to address the full range of equity issues Mr. Kotick acknowledges," continues the letter.

To address what appear to be systemic cultural issues, which were initially brought to light when the the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard containing a number of serious harassment and bullying allegations, SOC Investment is calling on the U.S. company to get serious about rebuilding its culture. 

"[Activision Blizzard must] increase board diversity and equity by adding a woman director -- preferably one with a history of advocacy for marginalized people and communities -- by the end of 2021, committing to gender-balance on the board by 2025, and reserving at least one board seat for a nominee selected by current employees as their representative," says Waizenegger.

"[It must also] claw back bonuses from executives found to have engaged in or enabled abusive behavior, award no bonuses for 2021, and make future bonus awards contingent on the company as a whole achieving clearly articulated and independently verified milestones for diversity and equity.

"At this critical juncture in Activision Blizzard’s history, we urge you and the board to push beyond the inadequate response from management and take the steps necessary to protect our investment from the financial, operational, and reputational risks that have come to the fore over the past week."

The letter has come to light one week after Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said the company would now "set the example" on inclusion and equality, despite the firm having initially described the harassment suit filed against it as "distorted" and "false."

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