Today, one of Activision Blizzard’s shareholders has released a letter that criticizes the company’s response to the recent lawsuit and the promises to improve its work culture.
In this letter, the SOC Executive Director has shared a list of changes for Activision Blizzard to make, including increasing board diversity and equity by adding a woman director, removing bonuses from executives found to have engaged in or enabled abusive behavior, and undertaking a company-wide Equity Review.
While we appreciate the improved tone and increased detail in CEO Kotick’s recent letter to Activision Blizzard employees, customers, and shareholders, the changes Mr. Kotick has announced do not go nearly far enough to address the deep and widespread issues with equity, inclusion, and human capital management at the company. To wit:
- No changes have been announced or proposed that would in any way alter the current process for filling vacancies either to the board of directors or to senior management.
- No changes have been announced with respect to executive pay, either with respect to clawing back compensation from executives who are found to have engaged in or enabled abusive practices, or to align executives with the equity goals Mr. Kotick articulated.
- The announced review by Wilmer Hale is deficient in a number of ways: this firm has a sterling reputation as a defender of the wealthy and connected, but it has no track record of uncovering wrongdoing, the lead investigator does not have in-depth experience investigating workplace harassment and abuse, and the scope of the investigation fails to address the full range of equity issues Mr. Kotick acknowledges.
We believe that to ensure smooth operations and a strong reputation going forward, Activision Blizzard should commit to the following changes:
- Increase board diversity and equity by adding a woman director – preferably one with a history of advocacy for marginalized people and communities – by the end of 2021, committing to gender-balance on the board by 2025, and reserving at least one board seat for a nominee selected by current employees as their representative.
- Claw back bonuses from executives found to have engaged in or enabled abusive behavior, award no bonuses for 2021, and make future bonus awards contingent on the company as a whole achieving clearly articulated and independently verified milestones for diversity and equity.
- Undertake a company-wide Equity Review, similar to the Racial Equity Reviews that Facebook, Air B&B, Starbucks, and BlackRock have completed or promised, but that will encompass the full range of concerns (including inequities rooted in gender, gender-identity, sexuality, and race) articulated by Mr. Kotick, Activision Blizzard employees, and customers: equity and representation issues in game design, the development process, and in user forums and similar settings.
Diablo II: Resurrected Early Access
Blizzard has announced the Early Access and Open Beta dates for Diablo II: Resurrected. Early Access testing will begin on August 13th, and the Open Beta weekend will begin on August 20th.
- The upcoming test weekends will feature two additional classes for players to experience: the Druid and the Paladin. Classes from the last alpha test (the Sorceress, the Barbarian, and the Amazon) will also be available for testing.
- Multiplayer will be enabled alongside cross-progression on Windows® PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation®5 and PlayStation®4.
- Like in the Technical Alpha, both Act I: The Sightless Eye and Act II: The Secret of the Vizjerei will be fully playable. The fully remade Act I & II cinematics will also be viewable in the Diablo II: Resurrected Early Access and Open Beta tests.