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Activision Blizzard discloses environment, social, and governance efforts


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Activision Blizzard has released its first-ever report on its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) commitments. The report focuses on how the company is championing its people, advancing more diverse and inclusive communities, and helping to protect our planet.

What does that mean? The big video game publisher said it is investing millions of dollars in organizations that prepare leaders of the future, including those from underrepresented minority groups, including Management Leadership for Tomorrow, UNCF, and Girls Who Code. Since 2016, there has been a two-times increase of women in game development leadership roles. And promotion rates for minorities and non-minorities are equal, and the promotion rate for women is slightly higher than the rate for men.

The company said it is also creating more diverse characters in its games, including Symmetra from Overwatch, the first playable character who is on the autism spectrum; Pelagos, the first openly transgender character in World of Warcraft; Tracer from Overwatch, the first LGBTQ character featured on a Blizzard game cover; Varden Dawngrasp, Hearthstone’s first openly non-binary character; and more recently in 2020, Leo Baker in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, as the first non-binary playable character in a sports game. It has also partnered with AbleGamers Foundation to make games more accessible.

On the sustainability front, the company said its ongoing conversion to a more digital business is enabling it to achieve important sustainability goals. Activision Blizzard saved over 5.5 million pounds of plastic waste over the last five years, through changes to packaging and materials. It aims to hit net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That’s a lot less aggressive than other companies like Razer.

CEO comments

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick talks with Dean Takahashi at GamesBeat Summit 2021.

Above: Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick talks with Dean Takahashi at GamesBeat Summit 2021.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

“In a time like no other – with communities around the world tested by extraordinary social, environmental, economic, and public health challenges – the employees of Activision Blizzard have served the global community by keeping people connected safely and using our global platform to comfort, inspire, and draw communities together,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, in the report. “Our mission – connecting and engaging the world through epic entertainment – has never been more important.”

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He added, “We enable a sense of accomplishment through healthy competition. Like sport, but with far greater accessibility, our players can find purpose and meaning through gaming.”

He said that gaming connects people more deeply than any other form of media, bringing players and fans together without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, sexual identity, gender, or gender expression.

Regarding Black Lives Matter, Kotick said, “We stood with Black Americans and with all those fighting against systemic inequality and violence. We took meaningful steps to combat bullying and hateful speech in our gaming communities. We continued our work towards our commitment to all of our players seeing themselves represented and supported in our games. And we worked to broaden the diversity of our own workforce, our leadership, and the pipeline of talented individuals from which we recruit new employees.”

Activision Blizzard’s size

Call of Duty: Warzone.

Above: Call of Duty: Warzone is one of Activision Blizzard’s big games.

Image Credit: Activision Blizzard

As of December 31, 2020, Activision Blizzard had 9,630 employees, up from 9,234 a year earlier. Blizzard accounts for 45% of them, while Activision is 27% and King is 20%. Others are 7%. For 2020, Activision had 128 million monthly active players, Blizzard had 29 million, and King had 240 million. Activision had $3.94 billion in bookings in 2020, Blizzard had $1.91 billion, and King had $2.16 billion.

Women are 24% of the overall employees, while underrepresented minorities are 34% of the overall base. The company is trying to improve those ratios, but it’s not dissimilar from the overall game industry. The company has nine employee networks dedicated to becoming a more inclusive company.

Corporate disclosures and policies

Only six of Activision Blizzard's 10,000 employees caught the coronavirus.

Above: Activision Blizzard’s old headquarters.

Image Credit: Activision Blizzard

As for its dues for the Entertainment Software Association, about $40,793 were used for political contributions or expenditures.

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Activision Blizzard has human rights, corporate governance, fair competition, anti-discrimination, and anti-corruption policies. And it says its Way2Play ethics and compliance program that empowers employees to be “heroes” when it comes to helping employees navigate the right way to do things.

The company said 80% of its directors are independent, and it has separate roles for chair, CEO, and independent lead director. About 20% of directors are women, and 20% are underrepresented minorities. Kotick’s compensation has been regularly criticized and he agreed to have it cut in the upcoming year. The company has a compensation committee that oversees that particular issue.

Environmental issues

As for environmental issues, the company has warehouses in Germany and the Netherlands as well as 80 offices around the work that occupy 2.3 million square feet.

In 2020, the company started doing environmental analyses with its landlords and property managers to evaluate energy, emissions, and water footprints. In North America, the company is consolidating its data centers to create business efficiencies and improve its environmental footprint.

In Europe, all of the datacenters are operated by a provider whose datacenters run on 100% renewable energy. The company reduced its footprint by saving more than 5.5 million pounds of plastic packaging. The company wants to reduce its plastic consumption by 50% from 2019 to 2024.

As far as data breaches, the company has pledged to inform authorities if that happens. The company has also pledged to create a safe and private environment for gamers, and it will stamp out any behavior that is harassing, racist, hateful, obscene, or otherwise unacceptable. Its games include in-game reporting systems for those problems.

And the company said it is committed to making its games accessible to all players, partnering with companies like the AbleGamers Foundation to improve
accessibility. It is committed to creating games with diverse characters so players can see themselves reflected in the games.

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Donations

The Call of Duty Endowment is campaigning to raise $3 million to get jobs for veterans.

Above: The Call of Duty Endowment is campaigning to raise $3 million to get jobs for veterans.

Image Credit: Call of Duty Endowment

As for donations, employees gave $1.6 million to 3,211 charities around the world, and each employee is eligible to pledge $200 of the company’s money to a charity of their choice. It also raised $12.7 million to fight breast cancer, and company volunteers supported 21 charities with volunteer time.

Kotick’s Call of Duty Endowment has found jobs for 85,000 veterans and made $53 million in grants since its inception. It helped 15,000 veterans find high-quality jobs in 2020.

For equality in the workplace, Activision Blizzard supports equal pay for equal work, and it gives parents 12 weeks of pay for parental leave, and in the U.S., birth mothers can take up to 22 weeks off with full pay.
As for promotions, the promotion rates between minority and non-minority populations are equal, and the company has higher promotion rates for women than men. About 13.5% of all employees were promoted in 2020.

The company promotes diversity in its employee base and it wants to positively influence diverse communities and protect the planet. During the pandemic, the company and the Wisconsin Partnership Program supported 388 student nurses and a 60-nurse facility provide 5,261 hours for vaccine distribution.

In response to COVID-19, the company donated $5 million to hospitals, healthcare organizations, and nonprofits.

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