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

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him

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

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

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Inflation Reduction Act Officially Passes the Senate, Revamping Electric Vehicle Pricing

David Shultz

David Shultz is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara, California. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside and Nautilus, among other publications.

The Capitol at Sunset
Courtesy of Mike Stoll via Unsplash

Over the weekend Senate Democrats officially passed the Inflation Reduction Act in what amounts to President Biden’s biggest legislative win so far. The bill includes a host of broad-spectrum economic policy changes and completely reworks the subsidies for electric vehicle purchases. The law still has to get through The House, but this should be a much smaller hurdle.

dot.LA covered the bill in depth as it neared the goal line at the end of July, and the final iteration doesn’t change much. To recap:

1.The rebate total stays $7,500 but is broken into two $3,750 chunks tied to how much of the car and its battery are made in the US.

2.The manufacturer caps are eliminated, meaning even EV companies that have sold more than 20,000 vehicles are once again eligible.

3.Rebates will now only apply to cars priced below $55,000 and trucks/SUVs below $80,000

With the new system placing a renewed emphasis on American manufacturing and assembly, the calculus of which vehicles cost how much is still being worked out, but the most comprehensive list I’ve seen has come from reddit user u/Mad691.

In addition to the EV rebate program, the bill also includes a number of economic incentives aimed at curbing emissions and accelerating the country’s transition to electric vehicles.

There’s $20 billion earmarked for the construction of new clean vehicle manufacturing facilities and $3 billion will go help electrify the USPS delivery fleet. Another $3 billion will go to electrifying the nation’s ports. Then there’s $1 billion for zero-emission trucks and buses.

Now that the bill is about to be codified into law, VC investment in the sector might heat up in response to the new money flowing in. “I do anticipate more climate funds standing up to invest in EV infrastructure,” says Taj Ahmad Eldridge, a partner at Include Ventures and the Director at CREST an ARES Foundation initiative with JFF/WRI that aims to provide training for people in the new green economy. “However, we do see funds being a little more thoughtful on diligence and taking their time to fund the right investment.”

The sentiment seems similar across Southern California. ChargeNet CEO and Co-Founder Tosh Dutt says the Inflation Reduction Act “super charges” the company’s effort to build infrastructure across the country.

“This investment accelerates the transition to renewable energy and gives companies like ChargeNet Stations the confidence to expand more rapidly, especially in underserved communities,” says Dutt.

For Rivian, the bill’s passage has left would-be customers in a sort of limbo. Because many of their models will exceed the $80,000 cap for trucks and SUVs after options, customers who’ve preordered are scrambling to sign buyers’ agreements to take advantage of the current EV rebate scheme which doesn’t include price caps. As I noted in the previous article, if you buy an EV before the bill is signed, you’re eligible for the current rebate system even if the vehicle isn’t delivered until 2023. Any existing contracts under the current system will remain valid.

With the legislation seemingly on the fast track to become law, it’s unclear whether or not Rivian will expedite the purchasing process to allow customers to sign the buyers’ agreement before the new rebate program becomes the law of the land. Tick tock!


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