Activision Blizzard’s first transparency report has revealed that over 30 employee misconduct complaints were handled by the company in 2022.
As part of the aftermath from the sexual harassment lawsuits and settlement, Activision Blizzard released their first annual Transparency Report. The company details substantiated claims from 2022 under the “Quantifying Our Work to Prevent Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation” category.
“Out of all harassment, discrimination, and retaliation cases that were reported during 2022, 87% were investigated,” Activision Blizzard revealed.
The remaining 13% were justified, however. “To the extent the Investigations Unit determines not to investigate a particular case, it is often because the respondent is no longer employed by the Company, there is insufficient information being provided in an anonymous report, or the respondent is not able to be identified.”
“During 2022, our Investigations Unit substantiated 36 total reported concerns of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation across all business units. Of these substantiated concerns, 29 represented conduct by our employees, two represented conduct by contingent workers, and five represented conduct by non-employees, including, for example, eSports players and testers,” the report detailed.
It added, “However, since non-employees are not included in our total employee population, these cases are not reflected in the tables that follow.”
Activision Blizzard further disclosed that 20,826 employees and contingent workers (an aggregate number of those employed during the year), there were 31 substantiated cases — or 0.15 cases per 100 employees and workers. The company notes they were substantiated “to the extent any of the investigated concerns were substantiated; substantiated does not mean a violation of law.”
There were also 116 investigations closed during 2022 (0.56 per 100 employees and workers), and a 27% Investigations Substantiation Rate.
“According to the 2023 Navex Risk & Compliance Hotline & Incident Management Benchmark Report (the ‘2023 Navex Report’), 2022 brought the return of a higher percentage of anonymous reports, potentially indicating more caution and concern about retaliation on the part of reporters,” Activision Blizzard admitted.
“Specifically, the 2023 Navex Report reported that a typical organization saw an anonymous reporting rate of 56% across all report categories during 2022,” the company added.
However, Activision Blizzard did manage to do better than the Navex Report in some matters. “With respect to claims related to harassment, discrimination, and retaliation included in the 2023 Navex Report, these percentages were a bit lower, with 40% of all discrimination claims, 41% of all harassment claims, and 34% of all retaliation claims reported anonymously.”
“As reflected in the table above, only 5% of our reported concerns of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation were submitted anonymously. This is significantly below peer benchmarks, and we believe this indicates a culture that encourages the expression of concerns without fear of retaliation,” Activision Blizzard hoped.
Activision Blizzard states that employees are made well aware of their reporting options, new Code of Conduct, and that managers must escalate misconduct reports within 72 hours.
“After our new initiatives were introduced in the third and fourth quarters of 2022, we saw an increase in questions, feedback, and reported concerns, along with a decline in our investigations substantiation rate during these periods, as our initiatives encouraged reports of even suspected misconduct. We believe this is a sign of a healthy reporting culture and effective training,” Activision Blizzard boasted.
They also highlight that they added over 3,000 employees over the prior five years “which may also have contributed to the increase in the total number of reported concerns.”
“Most of the reported concerns during 2022 were submitted by active employees. Combined with our low rate of anonymous submissions, we believe this means that our active employees feel comfortable disclosing their identities when submitting a report,” Activision Blizzard argue.
“We consider this to be further evidence of the high level of trust our employees have in the Company’s systems to address inappropriate conduct,” the company insisted. Activision Blizzard also discussed what “corrective actions” were taken after investigations, noting that all substantiated reports resulted in corrective action.
“Specifically, the 36 total substantiated cases reported above involved 37 respondents and 39 corrective actions,” Activision Blizzard explained, adding that one case can have multiple respondents, types of misconduct, and corrective actions.
The kinds of misconduct that resulted in termination included “inappropriate or discriminatory language, messages, or behavior (9 cases), discriminatory exclusion from chat room (1 case), physical assault (4 cases), non-consensual touching (2 cases), unwanted advances (4 cases), misgendering and the use of inappropriate language (1 case) and retaliation (1 case).”
“Written warnings were given when the conduct was less severe, or where the laws of a particular jurisdiction restrict the ability to terminate.” Activision Blizzard also provided a break-down of how non-termination corrective actions were utilized.
“The type of conduct that resulted in a written warning included inappropriate or discriminatory language or behavior (7 cases). Verbal feedback or coaching was used to address substantiated reports of inappropriate or discriminatory language or behavior (3 cases), misgendering (1 case), nonconsensual touching (1 case), and inappropriate behavior that occurred prior to joining our workforce (1 case).”
“Note that two employees resigned prior to receiving recommended disciplinary action.”
Further, approximately 20% of corrective actions were taken against employees of third parties (vendors, agencies, or suppliers), with said employee removed or barred from working with Activision Blizzard.
The company once again broke down the data with a graph. There, we see 36% of corrective actions were termination, followed by being referred to vendor (20%), verbal feedback or coaching (15%), written warnings (10%), and final written warnings (8%). 5% of cases didn’t take the recommended action due to resignation, and 3% resulted in a compensation review.
Activision Blizzard also used the Transparency Report to emphasize their goals of “company-wide zero tolerance,” increasing the “combined percentage of women and non-binary employees by 50%,” “waiving arbitration clauses for gender-based harassment and discrimination claims,” that they would “continue to increase visibility on pay equity,” and “provide regular progress updates.”
They even showed historical data on gender-based harassment and corrective actions.
“While we are proud of our efforts, workplace culture requires consistent attention. We will continue to invest heavily in our people, culture, content, and communities. Through these continued investments, we will remain the most welcoming and inclusive workplace in our industry,” Activision Blizzard concluded.