Activision Blizzard Wants to Exempt Itself From Diversity Hiring Proposal
EA has said that it will consider the proposal.
It’s been reported that The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has proposed that both EA and Activision implement a Rooney Rule for their hiring processes. However, as Vice reports, (Thanks, GamesIndustry.biz) lawyers from Activision rejected the proposal.
The AFL-CIO submitted letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and proposed that both EA and Activision Blizzard adopt a system that is modelled on the Rooney Rule. The Rooney Rule is a policy from the NFL that was implemented in 2003 and requires all teams of the National Football League to interview ethic-minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs.
In the letter, the AFL-CIO stated, “workforce diversity by requiring that the initial pool of candidates from which new employees are hired by the Company shall include, but need not be limited to, qualified women and minority candidates.” Essentially, this allows more candidates to be considered. It also stated, “A diverse workforce at all levels of a company can enhance long-term company performance.”
A spokesperson from Activision Blizzard told Motherboard, “Our talent is the lifeblood of Activision Blizzard. We value the diversity of the Activision Blizzard community and understand that our employees and players come from a wide array of backgrounds. In order to deliver epic and engaging entertainment for a diverse, growing global audience, our workforce must reflect these communities.”
They went on to mention programs the company has put in place such as its “scholarship programs with the United Negro College Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative.” But in a letter on January 19, 2021, attorneys for Activision Blizzard had requested that the SEC exempts the company from putting the proposal to shareholders later this summer.
In the letter obtained by Motherboard, the company’s attorney told the SEC, “While the Company has implemented a Rooney Rule policy as envisioned [for director and CEO nominees], implementing a policy that would extend such an approach to all hiring decisions amounts to an unworkable encroachment on the Company’s ability to run its business and compete for talent in a highly competitive, fast-moving market.”
They also wrote, “The Proposal leaves no room for the Company’s management or Board of Directors to exercise discretion in how new hire decisions are structured,” and said that the proposal seeks to “micromanage” the company to a significant degree.
As for EA, a spokesperson told Motherboard that “We’re in regular conversations with our shareholders and we value the feedback we receive. In accordance with our standard procedures, EA’s Board of Directors will consider the stockholder proposal.” They also added, “The Board is committed to maintaining hiring practices that promote inclusion and diversity at EA,”.
Vice notes that the AFL-CIO has proposed the Rooney Rule through other shareholder letters in recent years, and seeks to pressure companies into taking steps toward improving conditions for employees.