Activision-Blizzard’s board launched an extraneous ‘workplace responsibility’ committee overnight

Was anyone calling for *more* unaccountable bureaucracy here?

    
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Happy Tuesday morning! I have an exercise to get your side-eyes and eye-rolls all warmed up, in the form of a letter dispatched by the Activision-Blizzard board of directors last night at the strange hour of 10:30 p.m. EST. The board announced the formation of what it’s calling a “Workplace Responsibility Committee,” chaired by independent directors of the board and a future “diverse director” yet to be chosen, all in the service of “oversee[ing] the Company’s progress in successfully implementing its new policies, procedures, and commitments to improve workplace culture and eliminate all forms of harassment and discrimination at the Company.” The suggestion is that Bobby Kotick and other execs will report to this committee to “develop key performance indicators and/or other means to measure progress and ensure accountability.”

As we’ve been chronicling, last week the Activision-Blizzard sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit and scandal was refreshed in the news cycle thanks to a damning report by the Wall Street Journal that alleged Kotick himself knew about, allowed, participated in, and hid significant incidents of workplace misconduct, including his own death threat against a subordinate. To date, Activision-Blizzard and its board have spent the last week alternately apologizing, denying, and failing to take any concrete action to remove Kotick in spite of a now widespread chorus of stockholders, workers, and industry veterans calling for his resignation – and the resignation of several members of the board currently protecting him.

It is unclear why yet another committee made up of people who have been ineffective holding the company to account would somehow be effective now. Moreover, the committee fails to include any actual workers.

Last night, Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser added his voice to those of PlayStation’s Jim Ryan Xbox’s Phil Spencer, issuing a memo intended to be leaked about his disappointment with the company’s actions; Bowser told Nintendo employees that he’s working with the ESA on the topic and says Nintendo has “taken action and [is] assessing others” on dealing with Activision-Blizzard.

Activision-Blizzard’s stock has fallen around 35% in the last six months.

Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial company in the MMO and gaming space owing to a long string of scandals over the last few years, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, and executive pay fiasco. In the summer of 2021, the company was sued by the state of California for fostering a work environment riddled with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which has further compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. As of fall 2021, multiple state and federal agencies are currently investigating the company and the industry has called for Bobby Kotick’s resignation following fresh reports on his misdeeds.
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Bannex

Every corporation in America is watching to see if Blizzard/Bobby emerges unscathed because this will be the playbook for years to come.

I think that if Blizzard does in fact learn nothing and emerges “victorious”, it will negatively impact almost everybody’s life who works for a corporation over time.

This is actually pretty scary for workers rights.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

His best friends, who he has made filthy rich, just can’t quite bring themselves to pull the plug.

Another, Look, Squirrel! moment for ActiBlizz as they install another committee of people dedicated to protecting the CEO and the Board of Friends from any consequences of their corrosive, immoral and unethical behavior.

The fact that other companies’ CEOs have to weigh in and put economic pressure on them to even reach this level of pretense tells you a lot about the mucky level of slime ActiBlizz lives in.

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KoboldWhite

Well, as history teaches us, there’s nothing that can’t be brushed under the rug by an ‘independent’ committee.

Turing fail
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Turing fail

Gee, I’d be embarrassed to be associated with whomever does ActiBlizz’s PR…

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RangerCoder

Politics… A PR move that doesn’t do anything and one CEO and BOARD MEMBER that doesn’t take responsibility for his actions… and all the other stuff that happened before! I can officially say that Blizzard and their IPs are death to me…

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Schmidt.Capela

Meanwhile, Kevin Spacey, who was fired as both actor and producer from House of Cards for sexual harassment, is having to pay the show’s production company almost $31M for violating its anti-sexual harassment policy. In short, he is being held personably liable for the damage his conduct caused to the company, including the expense the production company had in removing his character from the show and the lost profits from having to shorten a season due to those changes.

That seems like a baseline of what companies should do to sexual predators in positions of power inside the company; fire them, then make them pay for all the damage their behavior caused.

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RangerCoder

If there was real justice in the world the board would not only FIRE Bobby Kotick and disgrace him publicly. He also would have to be ordered to pay a huge account of money to every victim in all the cases that he allowed, participated in, or helped hide!

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Bruno Brito

And people would toss dung at him.

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maydrock .

Shame….shame…..shame!

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SmiteDoctor

At first I thought they fired him for old allegations, how ever apparently Spacey was harassing people on set as well so firing him for that would have been the right call; as far as demanding money back for losses based on your decision to fire some one, well if some one attempted that crap with me I’d let it go to a creditor until the day I died, you accrue financial losses because of your decisions well you’re going to eat that cost because I’m not paying a dime. I’m proud to say I’ve got a list of companies I’ve told to F off over the years whether it be Cell Phone companies playing games with my bills, doctors offices that tell you one thing at point payment, then weeks down the road their office calls and says oops we made a mistake; nope I only pay what was agreed F your mistakes.

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Schmidt.Capela

The money the producing company demanded was due to his contracts; if I understood correctly, the contracts he signed as both actor and producer had this kind of penalty for sexual harassment.

BTW, he tried to avoid paying, which is why we now have a sentence saying he has to pay the damages that were previously determined and awarded during arbitration. Which, mind, also serves to further damage his image; I, for example, wasn’t even aware he was fired for sexual harassment until him losing the fight to avoid paying $31M in damages became news.

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SmiteDoctor

I still wouldn’t pay it, F Em.

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Bruno Brito

If he lost the pay in arbitration, he HAS to pay.

And denying to pay a bill because of corporate fuckery is completely different from breaching contract because Spacey is a hypersexual moron who can’t keep his hands to himself. Hence why arbitration found him liable to pay.

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Armsman

What a load of BS. Absolutely no input from the actual employee base. What’s next? Next week Bobby Kotick declares mission accomplished?

At this point the entire board just needs to be dismissed and the Activision offices fumigated. The level of tone deafness and stupidity here is amazing.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

The problem with the history so far is even if Kotick and the board were suddenly actually serious about this issue and not obviously motivated by the stock price to just make it go away is that it still looks like window dressing.

Still, I do wonder who this “diverse director” will end up being. At least it isn’t a co-directorship so they can’t discriminate overtly yet again.

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Bruno Brito

Ok, this is absurd.

People that never fucking worked for real in their lives will tell us about workplace responsability? Is this a fucking joke?

Isn’t enough that i have to share breath with coachs and speculators, now we have to listen to their input on workplace safety and harassment? Jesus Christ.

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Bryan Correll

I don’t think the AB board could pass a Turing test.

“diverse director”

One person to be diverse all on their own? Are they looking for someone with multiple personality disorder?

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notReginald VelJohnson

They’ll hire a non-binary, visually impaired, multiracial, left-handed paraplegic. Nothing bad about people in any of those groups; more of a comment on tokenization.

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Schmidt.Capela

Keep in mind that someone belonging to a minority group doesn’t mean said person will defend that minority. Case in point, Activision’s own Frances F. Townsend, who stepped down as an sponsor to the company’s Women’s Network after basically becoming persona non-grata there due to siding with the company rather than the abuse victims.

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Bruno Brito

It’s always something that Cornel West, a black activist, points out when talking about the plight of black america and the black liberals and medium-high class. Expecting them to toss what little they were able to acquire to be treated as the oppressed is being naive.

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Brazen Bondar

I must admit…I never thought I would see a quote from Cornell West in a comment on Massivelyop!

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Bruno Brito

I follow a lot of Chris Hedges’ work after his, let’s say “split” from the NYTimes. He’s a personal friend of Cornell and i watched some of their conversations on Youtube.

They’re both incredible people and their talks are always delightful, specially because West speaks with such passion that he sounds optimistic even tho he himself says he’s not. Which is a great pause since Hedges is incredibly bleak.