US Treasurer threatens Activision Blizzard’s profits

The Activision Blizzard logo hovers in front of a black background and a blue grid.

Picture: Activision Blizzard / Kotaku

Treasurers from California, Massachusetts, Illinois, Oregon, Delaware and Nevada are urging Activision Blizzard to take more serious action in the face of ongoing high-profile investigations and lawsuits about the company’s troubled culture. According to Axios, shelp cashiers has asked to meet with the board members of Activision Blizzard no later than December 20 and threatens to take action against the company if it does not comply.

A quick summary: Activision Blizzard has been accused of promoting a “frat boy” work culture in which women were sexually harassed, assaulted and psychologically traumatized across multiple studies. A newer one Wall Street Journal The investigation also revealed that the company’s CEO, Bobby Kotick, was aware of the allegations of sexual abuse over the years, often downplayed them or actively participated in the abuse. While the state of California was already involved in these Activision Blizzard procedures, and a number Devices require Kotick’s resignation, now several government officials are joining the chorus.

Treasurers, for those who do not know, are responsible for overseeing economic affairs that concern both its state and citizens. Treasurers in states like Illinois, for example, act as auditors of public accounts. But why should a treasurer worry about what a video game company does? Well, some states have active investments in Activision Blizzard that are affected by the company’s stock prices – which in turn affects pension funds that people spend in retirement. But having investments in Activision Blizzard also means that these state shareholders has a certain power to dictate what the company does next. And right now, the cashiers are not happy with Activision Blizzard’s management.

“We are concerned that the current CEO and board members do not have the skills or convictions to implement these radical changes needed to transform their culture, to restore trust in employees and shareholders and their partners,” Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs told Axios.

While Kotick has reportedly suggested he consider leaving his position as CEO if he can not fix the corporate culture, and Activision Blizzard has formed one Workplace Responsibility Committeettee “to improve the workplace culture and eliminate all forms of harassment and discrimination in the company,” Frerichs told Axios, “radical changes must be made in the company.”

“One thing that the cashiers bring is also a bit of a spotlight here and also a little public pressure,” Frerichs said Axios, who also noted that he was concerned about the news of unequal pay in the company. “So it’s not just about the number of dollars and the number of shares we have.”

Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg shared similar concerns with Frerichs and was confused that Activision Blizzard board members stood by Kotick on demand for his resignation. Goldberg told Axios that Activision Blizzard’s case requires “a true investigation” from “an external investigator.” Even a proposed $ 18M settlement for victims of harassment at Activision Blizzard does not seem to do much to convince people that the company is committed to deeper changes in the overall corporate culture.

Read more: Let’s meet the board members who support Besieged Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick

“You can point to, ‘Hey, we paid the victims, we’re doing them all,'” Frerichs said, “but if you continue a culture that creates new victims in the future, you create greater risk to your company,” he said.

The pressure has been mounting on Activision Blizzard to address their labor policies both outside and within the gaming industry. Chef for Xbox Phil Spencer, PlayStation Manager Jim Ryan, and Nintendo President Doug Bowser sent an email to their employees criticizing Activision Blizzard’s corporate culture. The National Legal and Political Center also called on Coca-Cola’s chairman and CEO James Quincey to “seek immediate resignation” from Kotick, who currently serves as a member of its board.

While emails addressed to Xbox, Nintendo, and PlayStation employees that inhibit Activision Blizzard are all good and good, they are ultimately not public attitudes that take Activision at stake for their toxic work culture. It has been an open secret that Activision Blizzard has had a toxic leadership far beyond anything that is currently being prosecuted, so it feels long required that people in power also take a stand. While it is new for cashiers to lean on a gaming company, there is precedent. In the past, cashiers have used financing like a carrot on a stick to influence operational changes in companies – such as to dispose of Massachusetts’ pensions to address climate change, according to Axios.

Public pressure affecting bottom line on Activision Blizzard while threatening structural changes speak truth to power better than an email can. Welcome to the resistance, Treasurers.

Read more: Everything that has happened since the Activision Blizzard lawsuit was filed

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