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Activision's Damage Control Reaches Sad New Low

The company is forming a 'Workplace Responsibility Committee,' led by two current members of the board

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Faced with internal unrest, plummeting share prices, and a growing public relations disaster, the men and women at the very top of Activision Blizzard—the senior executives and board of directors—should all be resigning. Instead, they’ve put out a desperate press release in the middle of the night, announcing the formation of a “Workplace Responsibility Committee.

This committee will apparently “oversee the Company’s progress in successfully implementing its new policies, procedures, and commitments to improve workplace culture and eliminate all forms of harassment and discrimination at the Company. Policies that reportedly won’t retrospectively apply to the conduct of CEO Bobby Kotick.

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Activision have appointed the only two women on its ten-person board of directors to lead this Committee, and will soon be adding “a new, diverse director to the Board” to join them. And just how will this Committee work? Like this:

The Committee will require management to develop key performance indicators and/or other means to measure progress and ensure accountability. The Chief Executive Officer, Bobby Kotick, along with the Chief People Officer and Chief Compliance Officer will provide frequent progress reports to the Committee, which will regularly brief the full Board. The Committee is empowered to retain outside consultants or advisers, including independent legal counsel, to assist in its work.

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So the Committee, consisting of two members of the board, will brief the board, of which Kotick is a member. And outside advisors can be consulted, but there’s no mention of input from Activision Blizzard’s nearly 10,000 strong workforce. The announcement closes with:

While the Company, with the Board’s support, has been making important progress to improve workplace culture, it is clear that current circumstances demand increased Board engagement. Formation of the Committee and additional future changes will help facilitate additional direct oversight and transparency and ensure that the Company’s commitments to Activision Blizzard’s workforce are carried out with urgency and impact. This has been a challenging time across the Company, but the Board is confident in the actions underway to set the Company up for future success.

It has been a challenging time because Kotick and other senior leaders have helped foster, then protect, a culture of harassment and misogyny at the company, while the board of directors, made up of many of Kotick’s old pals, continue to lend him their full support. They did nothing in the ten years preceding the lawsuit that blew this all up, and when given the chance to make changes in the months since July, installed Blizzard’s first woman co-head, then drove her out feeling “tokenized, marginalized, and discriminated against.

The workers and fans of Activision Blizzard don’t need any more Committees, least of all from the people who led them into this mess in the first place. They need everyone responsible for it gone.