A day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Kotick not only knew about but worked to cover up numerous cases of sexual harassment at the company, Activision Blizzard shareholders issued a letter calling for the resignation of CEO Bobby Kotick and two long-serving members of the board of directors.
“As new reporting indicates, and contrary to previous company statements, CEO Bobby Kotick was aware of many incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and gender discrimination at Activision Blizzard,” the SOC Investment Group, which represents union pension funds invested in Activision Blizzard and other companies, wrote. “As a result, we demand that Mr. Kotick quit as the company’s CEO.”
In order to assure that the board of directors is capable of directing a top-down effort to reform the corporation, the letter also calls for the retirement of Brian Kelly and Robert Morgado, two of the company’s most senior board members who have served since the 1990s.
Despite the fact that the SOC owns a small percentage of Activision Blizzard’s total stock, it has stated that if its requests are not met, it will not support the re-election of current board members and will strive to ensure that other shareholders do the same.
Employees at Activision Blizzard staged a walkout in response to the report, their second in four months, in protest of Kotick’s alleged participation in and enabling of the types of sexual harassment and discrimination that resulted in the company being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and its own employees in 2021. Following the announcement of the lawsuits in July, Kotick stated repeatedly that the business would institute a “zero tolerance” policy and that he would lower his income to the lowest level allowed under California law.
In addition to the WSJ story, IGN reported on former Blizzard executive Jen Oneal’s abrupt resignation, claiming that she was paid less than Mike Ybarra despite being co-president, and that she was only promised equal remuneration after tendering her resignation. This announcement follows several pronouncements by Kotick in which he stated that the corporation was dedicated to pay transparency for female employees.
“Our firm faces an unparalleled workplace crisis of its own creating,” the SOC says in a letter to Activision Blizzard shareholders. The board is also chastised for being “nearly utterly mute,” according to the letter.
Activision Blizzard’s board of directors published a statement backing Kotick hours after the WSJ revelation, further infuriating staff and fans.