Friday, August 12, 2022

Activision Blizzard Shareholders Approve Plan for Public Report on Sexual Harassment

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Activision Blizzard shareholders Tuesday approved a plan for the company to release an annual public report on its handling of sexual harassment and gender discrimination disputes, and how the company is working to prevent these incidents. The proposal was initially made in february by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Under the proposal, Activision Blizzard must disclose the following information each year:

  • The number and total amount of disputes resolved by the studio relating to sexual harassment and abuse, and discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, service member status, gender identification, or sexual orientation — over the last three years

  • What steps Activision Blizzard is taking to reduce the average time it takes to resolve these incidents internally and legally

  • The number of ongoing complaints the studio is facing regarding sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination, both internally and in court

  • Wage and hours worked data, as required by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing

The DFEH sued Activision Blizzard in July 2020, alleging that executives there fostered a culture of rampant sexual harassment and systematic gender discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also sued the studio over these allegations in 2020, and Activision Blizzard settled with the federal agency in March, agreeing to set up an $18 million fund for plaintiffs. Activists, employees and the DFEH have argued that this settlement is too low, and former employee Jessica Gonzalez appealed the ruling in May. The DFEH estimates there are 2,500 injured workers earning more than $930 million in damages.

“For years there have been alarming news reports reporting alleged rampant sexual abuse, discrimination, harassment and retaliation against female employees,” a statement in support of the proposal to shareholders. As an investor-directed document, it outlines the ways in which systematic discrimination and sexual abuse could harm the studio’s revenue streams and its ability to retain employees, saying, “A report like the one requested would help shareholders assess whether the company is improving its human resources management, whether its actions are consistent with the company’s public statements and whether it remains a sustainable investment.”

While Activision Blizzard faces multiple lawsuits and investigations related to sexism, harassment and discrimination, some employees at the studio are trying to unionize with the help of the Communications Workers of America. This would be the first union in a major video game studio and could mark a shift in the industry’s long-standing crunch-centric cycle. At Tuesday’s annual meeting, Activision Blizzard shareholders denied a proposal that an employee representative would have added to the board of directors, with only 5 percent voting in favor, the report said. The Washington Post

At the same time, Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard for a deal worth nearly $69 billion. Microsoft has pledged to respect workers’ rights to join unions. And all the while, Activision Blizzard is still making games.

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