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Activision Blizzard Resisting Rooney Rule Mandating Diversity Hiring
2021/01/27 at 5:52 PM
In an article published by VICE's Motherboard magazine, Activision Blizzard is resisting a shareholder proposal by the
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
(AFL-CIO) requesting the company institute a Rooney Rule, mandating that women and minorities be interviewed for all open positions within the company.
Read the original article in full on VICE.com
Quotes and attributed statements contained within this article sourced from VICE.com
is a National Football League policy which required leagues to interview minority and female candidates for head coaching and senior football operations positions, with the intent of increasing their representation within the industry. Like other forms of
, its intention is to bridge inequalities, although unlike many such policies the Rooney Rule does not incentivize or require minorities be hired or make up a certain amount of the employee workforce, instead only mandating that a minority qualified individual be interviewed before a position is filled. While its adoption did result in an initial increased minority representation within NFL operations, the
long-term effectiveness of the rule has been questioned
, and critics of the rule have argued that it is largely ineffective or can even oppose the intended effect and result in "token" interviews with no intention to hire. Regardless, since its adoption in 2003, the popularity of the rule has caused it to spread to several other industries - with the AFL-CIO now proposing Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard adopt it as well.
Such a policy would improve 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.
The purpose of the requested Diverse Candidate Search Policy is to assure that the Company’s recruitment pools for external hires are adequately diverse. A diverse workforce at all levels of a company can enhance long-term company performance.
As the largest labor federation in the United States, the AFL-CIO is a shareholder within many industries, and their proposal would
Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts to consider include women and people of color in the initial pool of candidates considered for open positions - that doesn't mean they
hire them, but that a qualified individual be considered (generally meaning interviewed) in at least the first round of candidacy. Interestingly, Activision Blizzard voluntarily follows this rule for interviewing director and CEO level positions, though the company's lawyers have argued against the proposal on two grounds: the first being that the rule is unwieldly to apply to every open position within the company likely due to the inability to ensure they find qualified individuals who meet that criteria, along with the second argument in that the proposal violates
by seeking to micromanage the company's ordinary business operations.
The Proposal leaves no room for the Company’s management or Board of Directors to exercise discretion in how new hire decisions are structured. 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.
It's important to point out that actual votes on these types of proposals usually don't happen, and rarely lead to strict adoption, but instead prompt outside pressure which cause the companies to formulate new policies of their own. This exact scenario recently played out just days ago, after the AFL-CIO issued a similar shareholder proposal for five of the largest U.S. banks to adopt a Rooney Rule; and while it was not adopted, the proposal resulted in negotiations and a
public commitment to institute new policies
. As a result, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank have all expanded their existing guidelines or issued new directives of their own.
Brandon Rees, Director of Investments, AFL-CIO
Typically what happens is the shareholders files a proposal. Then they have a dialogue with the company, and then depending on the outcome, agree to withdraw proposals if the company agrees to taking steps to fix the problem. If they agree to disagree, then it goes to the shareholders for a vote.
We see this as a helpful tool and felt that now was the right time to take steps to ensure their hiring practices promote diversity and inclusion in gaming.
So whichever side you come down on this - whether you a believe that employment should be a pure meritocracy in which no factors outside of ability should be considered, or you argue that these rules ensure greater representation and equality for groups which are often overlooked due to factors other than ability - it's likely that this proposal won't actually be passed, but will ideally prompt the Activision Blizzard board of directors to come up with amicable policies of their own.
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