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Activision Blizzard shareholder says company’s response doesn’t ‘go nearly far enough’

SOC Investment Group slams choice of WilmerHale law firm to investigate abuse claims

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Today, one of Activision Blizzard’s shareholders released a letter saying that the company’s proposed remedies for the pervasive allegations of sexual assault and discrimination “do not go nearly far enough.” As first reported by Axios, the SOC Investment Group acknowledged Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick’s improved response over previous “tone-deaf” statements, but also said his statement did not adequately address “the deep and widespread issue with equity, inclusion, and human capital management at the company.”

The SOC specifically cited the retention of union-busting law firm WilmerHale as one of the deficiencies in Activision Blizzard’s strategy. The letter stated that the firm “has no track record of uncovering wrongdoing”; that the lead investigator, Stephanie Avakian, has no experience in investigating workplace harassment and abuse; and that the scope of the investigation is insufficient to address the widespread discrimination issues present at the company.

The SOC Investment Group offered a list of changes for Activision Blizzard to make, including increasing board diversity, participating in an Equity Review, and recouping bonus money from executives found to have engaged in or enabled harassment.

The letter also proposed additional changes to the executive bonus structure asking Activision Blizzard to not award bonuses in 2021 and to make future bonuses contingent on the company meeting specific diversity and inclusion goals. Last year, Ubisoft made similar changes to its bonus structure after multiple sexual assault and harassment allegations were made by current and former employees.

Last month, the state of California sued Activision Blizzard over what it called a culture of “constant sexual harassment.” Kotick called the allegations “troubling” after chief compliance officer Frances Townsend stated that the lawsuit was “meritless” and the allegations within “distorted.” In response, Blizzard employees staged a walkout and created A Better ABK, an employee advocacy group asking for an end to forced arbitration, more diverse hiring and recruitment practices, and greater pay transparency. The Verge has reached out to Activision Blizzard for a response.