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Activision Blizzard tallies harassment reports, punishments

Yesterday, Activision Blizzard released its first Transparency Report, which provides insights into the company's efforts to address abuse, harassment, and discrimination within its organization. The report includes information about the number of employee reports and the actions taken in response.

In 2022, Activision Blizzard investigated a total of 116 reported cases related to harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. Out of these, 31 cases were substantiated. The company clarified that it investigated 87% of the reported cases, citing reasons such as the departure of the respondent or insufficient information in anonymous reports as factors for not pursuing investigations. Based on this percentage, the estimated number of complaints received would be around 134.

Considering the company's workforce of over 15,500 employees and 5,200 contingent workers, Activision Blizzard stated that there were 0.15 substantiated claims for every 100 employees.

Regarding the company's response to the substantiated cases, Activision Blizzard reported that 36% of corrective actions involved terminating an employee. The conduct leading to termination included inappropriate or discriminatory language, messages, or behavior; discriminatory exclusion from chat rooms; physical assault; non-consensual touching; unwanted advances; misgendering and use of inappropriate language; and retaliation. Written warnings (10% of corrective actions) and verbal feedback/coaching (15% of corrective actions) were also part of the company's response to varying levels of misconduct.

Activision Blizzard also shared historical data on gender-based harassment investigations from 2016 to 2021. However, the company cautioned that these figures were not comparable to the 2022 data, as the recent report encompassed a broader range of transgressions and reflected improvements in reporting options and investigation processes. The historical data showed no more than 16 reports in any given year, with a maximum of 12 cases determined to be substantiated.

The Transparency Report also addressed the settlement reached with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding a gender discrimination lawsuit filed against Activision Blizzard in 2021. The settlement involved a fund of $18 million, and while the exact number of recipients was not disclosed, it was suggested that over 200 people employed by the company between 2016 and 2021 could receive a payout determined by the EEOC.

Activision Blizzard's board of directors emphasized their commitment to transparency in the report, stating that sharing such workplace details allows stakeholders to understand the company's values and how they uphold them. They also expressed the hope that other organizations would follow suit in providing similar transparency.

The release of the transparency report was prompted by a shareholder proposal voted on at the company's 2022 annual meeting. Despite the board of directors' recommendation to vote against the proposal, it passed with a 2:1 margin. The proposal specifically called for disclosure of the total number and aggregate dollar amounts of settlements related to sexual abuse, harassment, or discrimination in the past three years, as well as the total number of pending complaints and consolidated pay and hours worked data. However, these specific details were not included in the final report.

Activision Blizzard clarified that the shareholder proposal was non-binding and stated that they believe the metrics included in the report best enable shareholders to evaluate their workplace progress, going beyond the requested metrics. The company sought direct input from shareholders on the most useful metrics for quantifying their progress in creating a positive work environment.

Source: by Brendan Sinclair Managing Editor at Games Industry biz

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