Activision Blizzard: Shareholders confirm CEO and demand harassment report

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Scandal-plagued CEO Bobby Kotick is set to stand at the helm of Activision Blizzard for another year after he was resigned following serious allegations surrounding the harassment and sexism scandals. An account of how those controversies were dealt with gains approval.

A history of controversies and scandals

Exciting video games were once considered Blizzard's product with the widest reach, but in recent years one scandal has followed the next. The publisher doesn't seem to miss a single blunder: even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Activision Blizzard was caught in the crossfire as part of the Hong Kong protests, followed by several sexism scandals, a wave of resignations and, at the end of 2021, a debate about unions. The fact that there were a lot of disappointing new releases and postponements between all of this was almost forgotten when a bizarre diversity ranking and aggressive in-game monetization in Diablo Immortal made negative headlines in May and June 2022.

Bobby Kotick is directly involved in many of these controversies. In particular, the CEO concealed the clarification of the numerous allegations of sexism and harassment, as a report by the Wall Street Journal revealed at the end of 2021. After the serious allegations, Kotick put it on record that he was considering resigning – but only if Activision Blizzard was not able to solve the problems quickly.

Apparently that has now happened according to Kotick, as at the annual general meeting he stood for re-election to the board of directors and was confirmed as CEO for another year by 533,703,580 votes. The owners of 62,597,199 shares voted against his re-election. The election was overshadowed by isolated efforts by some of the company's employees and shareholders to replace the unwelcome CEO – these plans have apparently failed for the time being; unless the proposed acquisition by Microsoft involves changes in leadership.

Shareholders demand report, Activision Blizzard sees no blame

Another item on the agenda at the meeting, meanwhile, was the vote on a report on the abuse and harassment cases. The request, submitted by a New York City pension fund, requires Activision to provide Blizzard with information such as employee compensation data, the number of out-of-court settlements in sexual harassment cases, the company's progress in resolving harassment and abuse complaints, and the total number of pending complaints published, as initially reported by the Washington Post. Activision Blizzard's board of directors had previously advised shareholders against supporting the report; nevertheless, they voted in favor of implementation with 379,308,934 to 183,876,515 votes.

However, the proposal and the vote are not binding for the board – it is therefore quite possible that Activision Blizzard will continue to ignore the request. The company indicated to Kotaku that the application would be carefully examined.

Stockholders 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.

Activision Blizzard

Just last week, an internal investigation by senior management concluded that Activision Blizzard didn't do anything wrong. According to the report, there has never been a systemic problem of harassment, discrimination or retaliation at the company – this is in direct contradiction to the numerous reports, court cases and allegations in recent months. As a result, the criticism was massive, employees and those affected described the investigation as hypocritical staging and worthless in terms of content.