SANTA MONICA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sep. 27, 2021– Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) today confirmed that, as part of its effort to have the most welcoming, inclusive workplace, it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to settle claims and to further strengthen policies and programs to prevent harassment and discrimination in the company’s workplace. Under the agreement, the principal terms of which are summarized in Attachment A to this press release, Activision Blizzard has committed to create an $18 million fund to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants. Any amounts not used for claimants will be divided between charities that advance women in the video game industry or promote awareness around harassment and gender equality issues as well as company diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, as approved by the EEOC. The agreement is subject to court approval.
The company also announced an initiative to develop software tools and training programs to improve workplace policies and practices for employers across the technology industry.
Commenting on the agreement, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said: “There is no place anywhere at our company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind, and I am grateful to the employees who bravely shared their experiences. I am sorry that anyone had to experience inappropriate conduct, and I remain unwavering in my commitment to make Activision Blizzard one of the world’s most inclusive, respected, and respectful workplaces.”
Kotick added: “We will continue to be vigilant in our commitment to the elimination of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. We thank the EEOC for its constructive engagement as we work to fulfill our commitments to eradicate inappropriate conduct in the workplace.”
In addition to the agreed funds, the company is taking additional steps, including:
Upgrading policies, practices, and training to further prevent and eliminate harassment and discrimination in its workplaces, including implementing an expanded performance review system with a new equal opportunity focus;
Providing ongoing oversight and review of the Company’s training programs, investigation policies, disciplinary framework and compliance by appointing a third-party equal opportunity consultant whose findings will be regularly reported to our Board of Directors as well as the Commission.
Summary of Agreement
Below is a summary of the principal terms of the agreement with the EEOC, which is subject to approval by the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Creation of an $18 million fund, with any amounts not used for claimants divided between contributions to non-profit organizations whose mission involves advancing women in the video game and tech sectors or who promote awareness around sexual harassment and gender equality and further investments in diversity and inclusion efforts at the Company that go beyond what we agreed to with the EEOC, all as approved by the EEOC.
The Company will upgrade policies, practices, and training to prevent and eliminate harassment and discrimination in the workplace, including implementing an expanded performance review system with a new equal opportunity focus;
The Company will engage a neutral, third-party equal employment opportunity consultant – a non-employee who must be approved by the EEOC – who will provide ongoing oversight of the Company’s compliance with the agreement. This independent consultant’s findings will be reported directly to the EEOC and Activision Blizzard’s Board of Directors; and
The Company will hire an internal EEO Coordinator with relevant experience in gender discrimination, harassment, and related retaliation to assist the Company and the neutral, third-party EEO consultant with implementation of the agreement’s requirements.
Except as otherwise noted in the agreement, its terms will remain in effect for three years from its effective date. The full text of the agreement, which sets out the commitments in detail, is available in the Investor Relations section of the Company’s website at investor.activision.com/consent-decree-with-EEOC.
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Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, said, “We are deeply committed to making Activision Blizzard one of the best, most inclusive places to work anywhere. There is absolutely no place anywhere in our Company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind. While we continue to work in good faith with regulators to address and resolve past workplace issues, we also continue to move ahead with our own initiatives to ensure that we are the very best place to work. We remain committed to addressing all workplace issues in a forthright and prompt manner.”
Kotick also said that the Company continues to productively engage with regulators, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) with the goal of improving its workplace policies and procedures and ensuring compliance.
The Company is actively engaged in continued discussions with the EEOC and has cooperated with the EEOC’s investigation concerning certain employment practices. It also confirmed that it is complying with a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) subpoena issued to the Company and several current and former employees and executives regarding disclosures on employment matters and related issues. The Company is confident in its prior disclosures and is cooperating with the SEC’s investigation.
Activision Blizzard has made a number of important improvements including significant changes to personnel, exiting a number of employees, and expanding compliance resources. In addition, the Company has refreshed its HR organization and, this week, will welcome a new Chief People Officer, Julie Hodges, who joins the Company from The Walt Disney Company. The Company has also expanded training, performance management, and anti-harassment resources.
The Company remains committed to ensuring it is the most welcoming, inclusive game company and connecting and engaging its 400 million players through epic entertainment created by the very best people in the industry.