While equity research analysts did ask about fallout from the lawsuit during Activision Blizzard’s earnings call on Tuesday, leaders like CEO Bobby Kotick could only offer vague platitudes and no specifics about how the company plans to move forward and change its culture.
“We remain intensely focused on the well-being of our employees and we are committed to doing everything possible to ensure that our company has a welcoming, supportive and safe environment where all of our team members can thrive,” Kotick said at the beginning of the call.
The majority of the earnings call saw executives jump back and forth between comments about how “employees are [their] greatest assets” to segments about the upcoming launch of Call of Duty: Vanguard and other financial results. The speed with which those on the call went from addressing a lawsuit about the company’s culture of sexism and discrimination to business at usual was jarring.
Surface-level commitment to change
The call also featured a short introduction of Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who will replace former Blizzard president J. Allen Brack. The company announced the decision this morning as they with the repercussions of a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employments and Housing. Activision Blizzard employees staged a walkout last week in response to management’s “tone deaf” response to the lawsuit.
“There is a lot of work ahead of us,” Oneal said after taking a question.
Neither Oneal nor any other representative of Activision Blizzard leadership went into any specifics about how the lawsuit or sexist culture may impact their business, outside saying that any period of “adverse publicity” may impact business.
While no one expected an earnings call to feature a deep discussion about the problematic culture at Activision Blizzard, calls with companies facing similar issues have included tough questions. Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot faced a tough question about how much he knew about the sexism at the French company in 2020, for example.