The AFL-CIO is a shareholder in both Activision Blizzard and EA, and the letter request was sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).The proposal is modeled after the Rooney Rule in the National Football League. Adopted in 2003, the rule required NFL teams to interview at least one non-white candidate for a coaching job. VICE reports that the rule was later expanded to include women and other marginalized candidates.
Activision, a company of over 9,000 employees and the makers of some of the biggest games like Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War and World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, has reportedly chafed at this proposal. It has taken measures to exempt itself by claiming that these guidelines are excluded from the SEC’s guidelines for shareholder proposals.
Furthermore, a letter by Activision, obtained by Motherboard claims, “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.”
Activision claims that this proposal violates SEC guidance as a way for a shareholder to “micromanage” the company. In a statement to VICE, EA says it will “consider the stockholder proposal” with its Board of Directors.
It should be noted that these proposals are legally non-binding. What they end up doing, however, is to highlight issues and pave a way forward for a company to address them. But Activision appears to get ahead of having these discussions altogether.
Matt T.M. Kim is a reporter for IGN. You can reach him on Twitter @LawofTD.