Activision Blizzard, Inc.: Facing the Call of Duty with a Laser Focus on Women

by: Kelly Hall, Ram Subramanian, Emily E. Tichenor

Publication Date: August 8, 2022
Length: 24 pages
Product ID#: 3-587-220

Core Disciplines: Communications, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Ethics, Leadership/Organizational Behavior, Social Impact, Strategy & Management

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Teaching Note

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Honorable Mention; 2022 DEI Global Case Writing Competition.

In November 2021, Activision Blizzard, Inc., the California-based maker of popular videogames such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, faced several challenges concerning issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The challenges stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) that charged the company with rampant gender discrimination and sexual harassment, which (the suit alleged) had been going on for years. This was followed by an exposé in the Wall Street Journal that blamed company CEO Robert A. Kotick for not keeping the board informed of these issues. Accompanying all this was pushback from Activision’s two major customers, Microsoft and Sony, who demanded that the company address the charges. Activision’s board chairman, Brian Kelly, and lead independent director, Robert J. Morgado, had to respond to these challenges amid the backdrop of mounting employee unrest. One major step they took was to appoint the board’s two female directors, Dawn Ostroff and Reveta Bowers, to examine possible solutions.

Students will put themselves into the shoes of Ostroff and Bowers and formulate recommendations.


Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Understand the challenges of gender discrimination and sexual harassment faced by women in male-dominated industries and the effects of such practices for organizations.
  • Analyze why some organization members, including female employees and senior leaders, may fail to take action against the injustices of gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
  • Evaluate potential response options to a diversity and inclusion crisis.
  • Create a strategy to transform a sexist and discriminatory culture into an inclusive one.