Activision Blizzard's Leadership Is As Homogenous As You Might Have Expected

Activision Blizzard's Leadership Is As Homogenous As You Might Have Expected

Facing a series of walkouts and allegations of a "frat boy" culture, Activision Blizzard released a trove of data on gender representation in its workplace this week that showed just how homogenous the company is.

The report was released in a letter to employees and published Dec. 16. It was part of the video game publisher’s attempts to rehabilitate its image following a lawsuit from California regulators alleging the company created a pervasive mysoginistic culture and a Securities and Exchange Commission probe. It’s also facing intense backlash from current and former employees, who all allege Activision ran a workplace rife with sexual harassment and retaliated against victims for speaking out.

The report found that about a quarter of the total global workforce at Activision, Blizzard and King is female – a statistic it claimed was the same as other competitors in the gaming industry.

“While representation company-wide is similar to our peer gaming companies in the United States, this is wholly inadequate in my mind,” Alegre wrote. “We will do better. We have a lot of work to do as we build an organization where diversity is as much a core value as innovation.”

The company said 29% of its recent hires across divisions were women, but also noted 26% of the attrition that happened in 2021 was also female employees. Essentially, the publisher lost nearly as many women as it hired in the last year to resignations or retirement.

Women account for 26% of Activision, Blizzard and King’s executive leadership and 26% of its entry-level positions, the company noted.

Sam Blake/ dot.LA

Activision also fell short of the average threshold for hiring ethnically diverse staff. Of its U.S. employees 36% identified as “a member of an underrepresented ethnic group,” which Activision admitted was behind the average of its competitors, who report roughly 40%.

Underrepresented ethnic groups – non-white staff – make up 15% of Activision Blizzard’s executive leadership.

In the letter, Activision chief operating officer Daniel Alegre said the company’s goal is to double the representation of women and non-binary staff at Activision Blizzard in the next five years.

Alegre said he wants at least one-third of the company to consist of non-male staff. He also said Activision Blizzard will include yearly diversity goals with executive leadership performance goals and invest in professional development and manager mentorship programs that “foster a culture of inclusion” across the company and allow more diverse staff to ascend the corporate ladder.

This letter from Activision Blizzard is a stark contrast to one sent to employees last week in an attempt to discourage them from unionizing.

Workers at Activision’s headquarters in Santa Monica were communicating with the media labor union the Communications Workers of America, which asked them to sign a union authorization card, one of the first steps towards a vote on joining a union.

The union discussions prompted chief administration officer (and former member of the Trump administration) Brian Bulatao to recognize the employees’ right to have a union under the National Labor Relations Act, but strongly warned against it.

Bulatao said in a letter to the company's nearly 10,000 employees last week they should “consider the consequences” of signing into a union agreement with CWA. He added, “Achieving our workplace culture aspirations will best occur through active, transparent dialogue between leaders and employees that we can act upon quickly. That is the better path than simply signing an electronic form offered to you by [the] CWA or awaiting the outcome of a legally mandated and regulated bargaining process sometime in the future.”

Risa Lieberwitz, a labor and employment law professor at Cornell University, told the Washington Post Bulatao’s email “plays close to the line of illegality in the implication that Activision Blizzard’s ‘pledged’ progress in workplace conditions are linked to the company being nonunion.”

Employees and a group of activist investors continue to call for CEO Bobby Kotick’s resignation, following revelations that he knew about alleged abuse within the company for several years but failed to act or inform the board. Activision Blizzard in September agreed to pay $18 million as part of a settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Activision Blizzard has experienced at least three work stoppages in the last five months as employees walked out to protest the company’s culture and handling of ongoing accusations.

Most recently, contractors at Raven Software – a subsidiary that does quality testing for some of Activision’s most popular franchises including “Call of Duty” – walked off the job to protest contract cuts.

Activision employees including Jennifer Gonzalez, a former senior test analyst for Blizzard Entertainment and walkout organizer who recently quit, organized a GoFundMe page with the goal of creating a $1 million fund to support striking workers. The fund’s description said, “Activision-Blizzard leaders have continually abused, union-busted, and remained apathetic to the wishes of workers.” Over $330,000 has been raised so far.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Image by Candice Navi

Though Silicon Valley is still very much the capital of venture capital, Los Angeles is home to plenty of VCs who have made their mark – investing in successful startups early and reaping colossal returns for their limited partners.

Who stands out? We thought there may be no better judge than their peers, so we asked 28 of L.A.'s top VCs who impresses them the most.

Read more Show less
Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

Pejman Nozad, a founding managing partner at Pear VC, joins this episode of LA Venture to discuss Pear VC's current initiatives, including its accelerator and fellowships. He's seen as one of the most successful angel investors in the area, and for good reason: he has made more than 300 investments in his lifetime.

Read more Show less
Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.