Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Activision Blizzard’s Incentives To Improve Workplace Culture

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Travon Marner
Travon Marner
Travon Marner is a seasoned journalist with nearly 12 years under his belt. While studying journalism at Boston, Travon found a passion for finding local stories. As a contributor to Business News Ledger, Travon mostly covers human interest pieces.

When Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is finalized, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick could earn a $22 million stock bonus if the Workplace Responsibility Committee concludes the video game company’s corporate culture has dramatically improved. According to a regulator filing, Kotick, who founded Activision in 1986, will get the stock bonus if he accomplishes “transformational gender-related goals and other commitments.”

According to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Kotick’s future at Activision Blizzard — he helped successfully engineer the merger of Activision and Vivendi Games in 2008 — is still unclear. In addition, it states that Kotick’s contract could be drawn out 12 months beyond its current March 2023 expiration.

What Is the Workplace Responsibility Committee?

Activision Blizzard’s board of directors created the Workplace Responsibility Committee in November 2021 to monitor progress in implementing and upholding any new procedures, policies, and/or commitments made by the video game publisher to make the workplace a more inclusive, safer, and fairer professional environment.

A Look at Activision’s New Policies

Activision Blizzard’s Workplace Responsibility Committee has the final say as to whether the video game giant is getting on with “appropriate progress” concerning the achievement of its goals.

Those goals included:

  • Increasing visibility on pay equity.
  • Investing $250 million to fast-track opportunities for diverse talent.
  • Abdicating arbitration of individual sexual harassment claims.
  • Forming a zero-tolerance harassment policy.
  • Raising the percentage of nonbinary people and women by 50% in the Activision Blizzard workforce.

Microsoft’s Plans for Activision Blizzard’s Future

In January, Microsoft announced its plans to spend $68.7 billion to buy Activision. The purchase will help bolster Microsoft’s Xbox gaming division and is expected to improve the workplace environment at the video game holding company, which is based in Santa Monica, California.

Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, said the company will ensure it has the best people in each role once the merger is finalized. “We’re looking to the leadership team at Activision Blizzard today to make culture and workplace safety a top priority every single day, until the day when this deal hopefully closes. And then we’ll take over, and we need to make that same commitment,” says Smith. “There will be some aspects that will change, but it will all be one new team that will work together. And most importantly, we want to see the culture evolve, and we will see how people perform between now and the day this closes, assuming it is approved.”

Microsoft Gaming CEO and future Activision CEO Phil Spencer is expected to take over for the Activision CEO once the merger is finished. According to Smith, their focus is on improving company culture across the board. “We will have the opportunity to make sure that we have the right people in the right position,” Smith notes.

According to the SEC filings, Spencer and Kotick talked on the phone on Nov. 19, 2021. During that call, Spencer told Kotick “Microsoft was interested in discussing strategic opportunities” between Blizzard Activision and Microsoft and asked if he would have time to discuss such matters with Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, the following day. At least four other unnamed companies also contacted the video game publisher about a possible merger.

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