The Treasuries of Nevada, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, California and Oregon are urging Activision Blizzard to take steps to address concerns expressed in November by SOC Investment Group shareholders and have requested a meeting with the company’s board to discuss the matter further. .
SOC Investment Group, known for its criticism of the overpaid salaries of Activision and Electronic Arts executives, formally called for the resignation or removal of Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick in November because of the “unprecedented workplace crisis” ” in the company. It also called on Activision Blizzard’s board to take meaningful steps to address the issues facing the company, including an external study of how and why the “frat boy” culture was allowed to flourish, and increased diversity and inclusion in the Board of Directors .
In a letter sent to Activision Blizzard on November 23, the six treasurers requested a meeting with the board “to discuss your response to the challenges and investment risk exposures facing Activision” outlined by the SOC Investment Group.
“We share the many concerns expressed in this [SOC Investment Group] letter, and we are eager to know what action the board will take in response to these concerns, while we weigh the letter’s call to vote against the re-election of the incumbent directors, “the treasurers’ letter reads.
Treasurers have significant financial influence that they can bring to life in various ways. As Axios noted, for example, the $ 226 billion New York Retirement Fund recently announced that it is dropping stocks of fossil fuels, a move that could help accelerate a market shift away from oil and gas companies; other states have threatened to withdraw assets and investments from banks withdrawing from fossil fuels. It’s all very political, and while it’s not clear how heavily government institutions are invested in Activision Blizzard, the large amounts of money they have available will necessarily get the board’s attention. At a minimum, this kind of high-visibility printing gives more attention, which Activision Blizzard certainly does not want right now.
The letter does not specifically mention Kotick, but some of the cashiers were highly critical of Activision Blizzard’s management as a whole in separate statements from For the Long Term, a public charity that aims to help municipal and state cashiers “harness the power of their offices to deliver sustainable long-term growth. ” For the Long Term also helped organize the introductory letter from the cashiers.
“Silence in the face of widespread harassment, abuse and discrimination is unforgivable, and Activision Blizzard’s board has shown that right now they are unprepared to steer the company forward from this unrest,” said Nevada Treasurer Zach Conine. “We need to hear from the board and see results. Robust supervision is not negotiable.”
“No one should be harassed or abused at work. But through their silence, that’s exactly what Activision Blizzard’s management and board members seem to have allowed to happen,” said Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs. “Activion’s board has a chance right now to happen. Undertake the necessary reforms to protect workers and create a safe, inclusive workplace culture. Doing so is not only good for their business and workers, but it is the key to preventing further damage to the long-term value of the business. “
A representative for For the Long Term said in an email sent to PC Gamer that they received a response from Activision Blizzard on November 30 and subsequently submitted a request to meet specifically with board members Dawn Ostroff and Reveta Bowers. Ostross and Bowers were selected to lead the new Workplace Responsibility Committee Activision Blizzard announced in November.
Activision Blizzard has been under fire since the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against it in July alleging widespread discrimination and sexual harassment in the company. But criticism has intensified in the wake of a November report that Kotick had been aware of at least some of the allegations but failed to act on them and had in fact protected at least one study leader from a complaint of sexual harassment: Activision Blizzard Employees immediately staged a walkout demanding the removal of Kotick, and the leaders of PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo all publicly condemned the company’s treatment of its employees. The National Legal and Policy Center, a political activist group, has also called on Coca-Cola to remove Kotick from its board.