Activision Responds to Reports It Pushed Back Against Diversifying Its Hiring Practice

By | January 27, 2021

Activision Blizzard reached out to provide a response to today’s report claiming Vice “mischaracterized” the SEC filing made by the company’s attorneys. In this new statement, Activision Blizzard says its objections were “rooted in the fact that the AFL-CIO proposal failed to adequately consider how to apply these practices in all of the countries we operate in.”The AFL-CIO is a federation of labor unions and is based in the United States. The organization is affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation, and several affiliated unions do cross borders into Canada. IGN has asked Activision Blizzard to clarify whether the AFL-CIO specifically requested these hiring rules to be applied across all of Activision Blizzard’s international businesses, or just ones based in the United States.

Here’s Activision Blizzard’s full statement below:

Activision Blizzard is committed to inclusive hiring practices and to creating a diverse workforce; it is essential to our mission. Vice completely mischaracterized the SEC filing made by our outside attorneys. In fact, our hiring practices are rooted in ensuring diversity for all roles. We engage in this aggressively and successfully. Our objection was rooted in the fact that the AFL-CIO proposal failed to adequately consider how to apply these practices in all of the countries we operate in.

Our games have uniquely influenced popular culture and have helped to increase tolerance and inclusion through their connectivity as well as the heroes we portray and our stories that celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion in so many powerful ways.

In order to ensure that our games stay true to our mission–to connect and engage the world through epic entertainment–we require that all candidates of all backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, races and sexual orientations are considered for each and every open role. We aggressively recruit diverse candidates so the workforce provides the inspired creativity required to meet the expectations of our diverse 400 million players across 190 countries. We remain committed to increasing diversity at all levels throughout Activision Blizzard worldwide.

Original Story: A new report has found that Activision Blizzard is resisting the adoption of a hiring practice that would require the company to interview at least one candidate who is a qualified woman or minority candidate. Activision Blizzard, via its attorneys have called this practice “unworkable.”

In a new report from VICE, the AFL-CIO, the largest labor federation in the United States, submitted a shareholder proposal to Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts (EA) requesting it adopt a hiring policy that would require each company to include women and people of color in its initial pool of potential candidates.

The AFL-CIO is a shareholder in both Activision Blizzard and EA, and the letter request was sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The proposal is modeled after the Rooney Rule in the National Football League. Adopted in 2003, the rule required NFL teams to interview at least one non-white candidate for a coaching job. VICE reports that the rule was later expanded to include women and other marginalized candidates.

Activision, a company of over 9,000 employees and the makers of some of the biggest games like Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War and World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, has reportedly chafed at this proposal. It has taken measures to exempt itself by claiming that these guidelines are excluded from the SEC’s guidelines for shareholder proposals.

Furthermore, a letter by Activision, obtained by Motherboard claims, “While the Company has implemented a Rooney Rule policy as envisioned [for director and CEO nominees], implementing a policy that would extend such an approach to all hiring decisions amounts to an unworkable encroachment on the Company’s ability to run its business and compete for talent in a highly competitive, fast-moving market.”

Activision claims that this proposal violates SEC guidance as a way for a shareholder to “micromanage” the company. In a statement to VICE, EA says it will “consider the stockholder proposal” with its Board of Directors.

It should be noted that these proposals are legally non-binding. What they end up doing, however, is to highlight issues and pave a way forward for a company to address them. But Activision appears to get ahead of having these discussions altogether.

Matt T.M. Kim is a reporter for IGN. You can reach him on Twitter @LawofTD.Source