Activision-Blizzard shareholders reject employee Board rep, approve workplace abuse reports

It knows you sinned.

So we’ve got good news and bad news when it comes to the brief Activision-Blizzard stockholder meeting and vote yesterday.

The shareholders, representing almost 83% of the total shares of the company, voted to approve the company’s plan for executive compensation – a vote that has been the subject of much shenaniganery in the past, readers will recall. They also voted in two new members of the Board itself and rejected the proposal to nominate an employee representative director, the latter of which ABK had argued against.

The good news here is that a strong majority voted in favor of the proposal that the company prepare annual reports regarding its efforts to fight sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Activision-Blizzard had previously pressured stockholders to reject the proposal, insisting that it would take too much time and money and would poorly reflect real conditions for employees – the Board representation for whom the company just argued against.

“In addition, approximately 67% of the voting shares voted in favor of the non-binding stockholder proposal regarding the preparation of a report about the Company’s efforts in the workplace. Consistent with our ongoing commitments, we will carefully consider the proposal to enhance our future disclosures. Activision Blizzard remains deeply committed to a respectful, welcoming workplace for all colleagues. We believe that transparency with our stakeholders is critical to our commitment to the very best governance practices. The Board greatly values our stockholders’ perspectives.”

So while the Board lost this round, it was merely a non-binding proposal, which means Activision-Blizzard can just ignore it if it chooses. Just last week, the company self-published an inflammatory report unilaterally absolving the Board and corporate leadership of wrongdoing in spite of ongoing investigations, lawsuits, and standing evidence to the contrary, perhaps signaling its intentions here. Kotaku asked ABK directly about its plans following the vote, and it refused to give any.

The Washington Post, which has emerged as the mainstream outlet covering ABK’s scandals most closely, noted that the New York State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, began pushing for this report earlier in 2022; here’s the statement he gave WAPO: “Shareholders’ majority vote spoke loudly. Activision Blizzard needs to restore investor confidence and increase transparency on how it handles workplace harassment and discrimination. We expect swift action from the company on our concerns.”

Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company 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 2021, the company was sued by California for fostering a work environment rife with sexual harassment and discrimination, the disastrous corporate response to which compounded Blizzard’s ongoing pipeline issues and the widespread perception that its online games are in decline. Multiple state and federal agencies are investigating the company as employees strike and call for Bobby Kotick’s resignation. As of 2022, the company is being acquired by no less than Microsoft.
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