Activision Blizzard has written to shareholders urging them to vote against against a New York State proposal that it should publish an annual report detailing the effectiveness and outcomes of its efforts to prevent abuse, harassment, and discrimination in its workplace. Similarly, it also wants shareholders to vote against a proposal to put an employee representative on its board.
As detailed in its latest shareholder filing, Activision Blizzard’s board of directors is unanimously recommending shareholders vote against enacting the annual report, which would include several proposed metrics: the total number of pending sexual abuse, harassment or discrimination complaints the company is seeking to resolve through internal processes or ligation; details of the company’s progress toward reducing the average time it takes to resolve sexual abuse, harassment or discrimination complaints; the amount of money it has spent settling disputes related to sexual abuse, harassment or discrimination, and finally pay and hours worked consolidated data.
While this kind of proposed transparency might seem prudent given that Activision Blizzard has been rocked by shocking allegations around its workplace practices since last July, and remains embroiled in a number of lawsuits relating to those practices – including last year’s State of California filing, which described the publisher as a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women” – its board says it believes the proposal isn’t “in the best interests of the Company or its shareholders.”
In its statement to shareholders, Activision Blizzard’s board of directors – which, notably, stood by CEO Bobby Kotick following a damning report last year claiming he was aware of sexual misconduct within the company “for years”- insists that while it is “deeply committed to preventing all forms of abuse, harassment, and discrimination and creating a safe and welcoming workplace for all members of our community”, it believes that “rather than diverting energy and resources toward creating yet another report, we should continue to directly respond to employee concerns.”
It also insists that any such report would “create a set of metrics that are simply not the best measures of how the Company is responding to employee concerns.”
Elsewhere in its filing, Activision Blizzard’s board unanimously recommends shareholders vote against a second proposal that it puts an employee representative, selected by non-management employees, on the board.
This particular proposal, submitted by the AFL-CIO, suggests that “including an employee representative on Activision’s Board will be particularly beneficial in light of recent allegations regarding sexual misconduct” at the company, and will “contribute to a needed refreshment of the Board by adding an employee perspective to Board deliberations”.
However, Activision Blizzard’s board believes otherwise, claiming that allowing employees to select a director would make that person “non-indepent” and would “replace the careful judgment of the Board as to the criteria that should be reflected in a director candidate pool.”
“Providing non-management employees with a dedicated position on the Board utilising a different process for Board representation or applying a different set of qualifications would adversely affect the role of the Board in this process,” it insists.
Whether Activision Blizzard’s shareholders are swayed by the publisher’s arguments remains to be seen, but both votes are scheduled to be held during its next annual meeting on 21st June.