There’s already a would-be class-action lawsuit from shareholders against Activision-Blizzard alleging that the company withheld important information about its legal turmoil, constituting fraud against investors. But even shareholders not yet part of that class-action aren’t thrilled with the way the company is handling the fallout since California filed its whopper of a sexual discrimination/harassment lawsuit back in July.
One of them is SOC Investment Group, and before we dig in here, know that SOC Investment Group is apparently a new name for CtW Investment Group, an activist group that has previously purported to represent shareholders of multiple companies, including Activision-Blizzard, in the executive pay arena. Under the SOC Investment Group banner, however, the coalition has made its position as an actual shareholder in the company clear via an open letter from its Executive Director, Dieter Waizeneggar, to Activision-Blizzard’s lead independent director, Robert Morgado; it says it not only is a shareholder but “works with” union-sponsored pension funds with “over $250 billion in assets under management” with “substantial” stake in Activision-Blizzard.
“The changes Mr. Kotick has announced do not go nearly far enough to address the deep and widespread issues with equity, inclusion, and human capital management at the company,” Waizeneggar writes. He notes that the company hasn’t proposed appropriate changes to hiring or compensation claw-backs for offenders, and he blasts Bobby Kotick’s chosen lawfirm, WilmerHale.
“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.”
SOC Investment Group further demands that the board undergo a full equity review and rework the board’s makeup to “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.”