Activision Blizzard pressured by US state treasurers to take action

Activision Blizzard is being pressured to address its state of affairs by treasurers from key US states including California and Nevada.
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In the wake of allegations about mismanagement, harassment and other workplace issues, Activision Blizzard is being pressured by US state treasurers in California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Illinois, Oregon and Delaware to finally aim for meaningful change at the company.

A November 23 letter seen by Axios highlighted the new push from the treasurers, whose states each have investments in Activision Blizzard, with demands for a meeting ‘to discuss [Activision Blizzard’s] response to the challenges and investment risk exposures that face Activision.’

It comes in the wake of high profile legal issues for the company, which is currently facing multiple lawsuits and allegations pertaining to sexual harassment. Allegations of CEO Bobby Kotick’s direct involvement in these acts led to a major vote of no confidence in his leadership, with over 1,800 employees calling for his resignation in November.

Activision Blizzard now faces mounting pressure from US states

The six US state treasurers now asking for a meeting have said they will consider calling a vote against the re-election of current board members, using their unspecified investment dollars as leverage.

‘We’re concerned that the current CEO and board directors don’t have the skillset, nor the conviction to institute these sweeping changes needed to transform their culture, to restore trust with employees and shareholders and their partners,’ Michael Frerichs, Illinois state treasurer told Axios.

Frerichs further said the treasurers believed ‘sweeping change’ was needed to ensure the company could become better for everyone in future.

Read: Activision Blizzard lawsuits: Everything that has happened so far

The treasurers further called on Activision Blizzard to properly address reports of harassment and unequal pay, as well as the Wall Street Journal investigation that claimed Kotick covered up sexual misconduct allegations.

‘This particular case has been waiting for the board to step in and do an investigation,’ Deborah Goldberg, Massachusetts treasurer told Axios. ‘A true investigation, an outside investigator. And I mean, what was it, two weeks ago that they said they stand by the CEO?’

Despite the massive uproar against Kotick and the leadership of Activision Blizzard for allegedly allowing a ‘frat culture’ to thrive, the Activision Blizzard board has so far stood by the CEO. Fresh reports also allege upper management said the company’s new ‘zero tolerance’ sexual harassment policy did not apply to Kotick because there was ‘no evidence’ to support recent claims.

According to Axios, it’s unclear how much Activision Blizzard stock each state treasurer holds — and therefore, it’s unclear how much power they hold in votes — but the treasurers are still able to shine a spotlight on the company’s inaction, and hold them to account.

As pressure mounts on all sides, and with partner companies like Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation sharing their ‘distress’ about developments at the company, now could be the time the company starts making meaningful changes to better its culture and standards.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.