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

Was anyone calling for *more* unaccountable bureaucracy here?


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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