Despite Criticism, Activision Blizzard Still Has Bobby Kotick as CEO
Things have not been going well for Activision Blizzard for the past few months. It hasn’t even been going well for the company in the past week, where employees have been actively petitioning for Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard’s, removal. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan, Xbox Chief Phil Spencer, and even Doug Bowser of Nintendo of America have criticized Blizzard’s, and more importantly, Kotick’s, actions. Girls Who Code has already ended its partnership with Blizzard, citing that it does not want to be part of the toxic work environment.
While Kotick has already mused that he will step down if he can’t solve the matter quickly, he has not acceded to employee demands. Instead, he’s made a workplace responsibility committee. That sounds very good on paper, but in reality, it’s more like sticking a bandaid on a horrific wound. And it gets even better as we dive into what this committee is supposed to be, and who it’s led by.
This Workplace responsibility committee is made up of, unsurprisingly and cringingly, Bobby Kotick himself and two other board members, CPO Julie Hodges, and COO Frances Townsend. This committee is supposed to “measure progress and ensure accountability” while going through the process of improving its work culture, by providing “frequent progress reports” by the three. They’re also looking for a “new, diverse director to the Board.” By all accounts, while it sounds good, this doesn’t address any of the previous concerns. This is especially concerning as there are allegations against Kotick for workplace misconduct and he’s put himself in charge of this committee- though not the other two board members who the ABK Workers Alliance asked to step down.
There’s nothing about the committee having to report its findings to the public either. Instead, according to a statement by the board of directors, all Kotick has to do is disclose his findings, or lack thereof, to the board, and no one else. “It is clear that current circumstances demand increased Board engagement,” the statement says. “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 seems, for now, Activision Blizzard will protect those on top. A bigger push may be needed for Bobby Kotick to leave the CEO chair.