Activision Blizzard is attempting to resist proposals by New York State to issue a yearly report regarding the company's harassment and abuse issues. The report would include how many harassment complaints ABK is facing, as well as how much money it has spent settling misconduct claims and more.
Why is Activision Blizzard resisting this report?
Since reports first emerged regarding harassment at Activision Blizzard last year, allegations of abuse, misconduct, and harassment have continued to pile up, with resulting investigations also heightening as a result. Now, Activision Blizzard wants its shareholders to vote against a potential annual report detailing the extent of misconduct and harassment within the company, according to Axios. The state of New York is pushing for the report, but Activision says it would divert resources away from actually trying to deal with the problem.
According to Axios, New York's proposal would ask Activision Blizzard to disclose the total number of pending claims regarding abuse, harassment, or discrimination that the company is looking to resolve. The report would also contain the amount Activision Blizzard spent on settling misconduct claims within the last three years, as well as how many pending misconduct claims the studio is currently facing. Given that employees keep on speaking up about sexual harassment within the company, it perhaps shouldn't be surprising that Activision Blizzard's response has been to urge shareholders to vote against the proposal.
In Activision's own words, the company believes that the proposal would involve "diverting energy and resources" towards creating a report, and that those resources would be better spent "directly [responding] to employee concerns". New York State says that Activision could owe up to $930 million to employees in recompense for harassment or abuse they've suffered, a figure that ABK says is based on "faulty assumptions" and mathematics errors. It's not just the report, either; Activision is also urging its shareholders to vote against an upcoming proposal to add a board member voted on by employees, a decision the company says would "side-step its own selection process", according to Axios.
Will things ever improve at Activision Blizzard?
It's hard not to see this as yet another dastardly corporate move by a company increasingly vilified by the public and the media (not to mention other companies). Although ABK has made token nods towards increasing transparency and dealing with workplace harassment, it doesn't look great when the company resists proposals like this one. There are some who are hoping that the recent Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard (which represents the biggest gaming deal in history, and which was recently approved by shareholders) will result in a change in ABK company policy.
One potential stumbling block for this deal is the Federal Trade Commission, with many doubting that the FTC will allow the deal to go through. Despite this, one of Wall Street's shrewdest investors is betting the deal will be done. Warren Buffett, via his Berkshire Hathaway company, has purchased even more shares (note: content behind paywall) of Activision Blizzard, increasing Berkshire's ownership of the studio by almost 8% to around a 9.5% ownership stake. If the Microsoft acquisition does go through, Buffett would see a healthy profit from the deal, as Microsoft has offered a significant premium on ABK share prices.
Activision Blizzard has a lot of work to do in order to restore its reputation. Whether it's responding negatively to proposed unionization efforts or attempting to block reports regarding sexual harassment, this isn't a company that can afford many more PR blunders. For the sake of the employees currently working there and the industry as a whole, here's hoping that Activision Blizzard can turn things around in a major way. We'll bring you more on this as soon as we get it.