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Photo: David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

SOC Investment Group says that Activision Blizzard's recent promises to improve its culture do not go "nearly far enough to address the deep and widespread issues with equity, inclusion, and human capital management" that the company is facing.

Why it matters: In addition to being an Activision Blizzard shareholder, SOC advocates for ethical business practices and is outspoken on topics like pay gaps between executives and workers.

A letter from SOC executive director Dieter Waizenegger, shared exclusively with Axios, reads:

  • "No changes have been announced or proposed that would in any way alter the current process for filling vacancies either to the board of directors or to senior management."
  • "No changes have been announced with respect to executive pay, either with respect to clawing back compensation from executives who are found to have engaged in or enabled abusive practices, or to align executives with the equity goals [CEO Bobby] Kotick articulated."
  • "The announced review by Wilmer Hale is deficient in a number of ways: this firm has a sterling reputation as a defender of the wealthy and connected, but it has no track record of uncovering wrongdoing, the lead investigator does not have in-depth experience investigating workplace harassment and abuse, and the scope of the investigation fails to address the full range of equity issues Mr. Kotick acknowledges."

SOC is calling on Activision Blizzard to make the following changes:

  • "Increase board diversity and equity by adding a woman director — preferably one with a history of advocacy for marginalized people and communities — by the end of 2021, committing to gender-balance on the board by 2025, and reserving at least one board seat for a nominee selected by current employees as their representative."
  • "Claw back bonuses from executives found to have engaged in or enabled abusive behavior, award no bonuses for 2021, and make future bonus awards contingent on the company as a whole achieving clearly articulated and independently verified milestones for diversity and equity."
  • "Undertake a company-wide Equity Review, similar to the Racial Equity Reviews that Facebook, Air B&B, Starbucks, and BlackRock have completed or promised, but that will encompass the full range of concerns (including inequities rooted in gender, gender-identity, sexuality, and race) articulated by Mr. Kotick, Activision Blizzard employees, and customers: equity and representation issues in game design, the development process, and in user forums and similar settings."

What's next: Although Kotick has promised that Activision Blizzard "will be the company that sets the example for this in our industry," employees and industry observers remain skeptical.

  • "At this critical juncture in Activision Blizzard’s history, we urge you and the board to push beyond the inadequate response from management and take the steps necessary to protect our investment from the financial, operational, and reputational risks that have come to the fore over the past week," Waizenegger says.

Go deeper

Oct 29, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Halloween Blizzard of 1991: It's OK to reminisce and to tune out

These kids, just like Nick, had a blast in the Halloween blizzard. Photo: Marlin Levison/Star Tribune via Getty Image

We're about to mark the 30th anniversary of the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 and if you immediately want to delete this newsletter, I understand.

Minnesotans of a certain age love to talk about that massive blizzard, which dumped 28 inches — still a record for a storm here by a margin of 7 inches — over the course of three days. Duluth got 37 inches!

  • Non-lifelong or younger Minnesotans should be forgiven if they're sick of hearing about it.

Europe's energy reliance on Russia is a crucial shield for Putin

Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Cracks in the NATO alliance regarding sanctions for Russia should President Vladimir Putin order troops into Ukraine are in large part based on energy supply concerns.

Why it matters: Russia holds tremendous leverage over some European countries because it provides roughly 40% of Europe's natural gas supply. In Germany, this figure is greater than 50%.

Why the Fed might want to jolt the markets

Fed chair Jerome Powell at a hearing earlier this month. Photo: Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images

So far, financial markets are cooperating nicely with the Federal Reserve's efforts to restrain inflation. They're doing the Fed's work for it by creating tighter financial conditions, in a distinctly non-panicky way.

  • But as the central bank's policymakers meet this week, an underlying question they face is whether the adjustment is happening too slowly.