Activision Blizzard shareholders reject board seat for employees

As Activision Blizzard faces numerous sexual harassment lawsuits and investigations, employee activists have rallied to get a seat on the company board to represent the voice of the staff. Despite major victories, like testers of Raven Software QA, an Activision division, winning the first union election at a major U.S. gaming company, shareholders quashed the organizers’ request to give the workers a voice on the board. Just 5% of shareholders voted in favor of extending a board seat to employees.

The bad news for activist employees didn’t stop there. In November, a Wall Street Journal report found that top Activision Blizzard executives did not notify the board about alleged rape at the company, and a minority group of shareholders demanded that board directors Brian Kelly and Robert Morgado retire by the end of 2021. Now, months past that deadline, they’ve been reelected to the board, along with controversial CEO Bobby Kotick.

Shareholders did, however, approve a proposal from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, which will require the gaming giant to share information about employee compensation, the total number of sexual harassment settlements, total pending complaints and general progress on improving company culture.

This proposal may force Activision Blizzard to have some degree of accountability. But this is also a company board that investigated itself and found that it did nothing wrong, aside from “some substantiated instances of gender harassment.” And yet, reports of toxic behavior, attempted union-busting and employee unrest at Activision Blizzard are rampant.

As more tech workers reach historic firsts in union organizing — like the unionizing of an Apple Store this week — the movement led by Raven Software QA testers may continue within Activision Blizzard. Microsoft, the presumptive buyer of Activision Blizzard, entered a labor neutrality agreement last week with the Communication Workers of America, which helped Raven Software workers unionize. Under that agreement, Microsoft won’t actively try to stop employees from unionizing.