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Game

Activision Blizzard shareholders approve plan for public report on sexual harassment

Activision Blizzard shareholders on Tuesday approved a plan for the company to release an annual, public report detailing its handling of sexual harassment and gender discrimination disputes, and how it’s working to prevent these incidences. The proposal was initially made in February by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

Under the proposal, Activision Blizzard will have to publicly disclose the following information each year:

  • The number and total dollar amount of disputes settled by the studio relating to sexual harassment and abuse, and discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, service member status, gender identify, or sexual orientation — covering the last three years

  • What steps Activision Blizzard is taking to reduce the average length of time it takes to resolve these incidents internally and legally

  • The number of pending complaints facing the studio relating to sexual abuse, harassment and discrimination, internally and in litigation

  • Data on pay and hours worked, as required by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing

The DFEH sued Activision Blizzard in July 2020, alleging executives there fostered a culture of rampant sexual harassment and systemic gender discrimination. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also sued the studio over these allegations in 2020, and Activision Blizzard settled with the federal agency in March, agreeing to set up an $18 million fund for claimants. Activists, employees and the DFEH have argued that this settlement is too low, and former employee Jessica Gonzalez appealed the ruling in May. The DFEH estimates there are 2,500 injured employees deserving more than $930 million in compensation.

“For years, there have been alarming news reports that detail allegedly rampant sexual abuse, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation directed toward female employees,” a statement in support of the proposal to shareholders reads. As an investor-focused document, it outlines the ways in which systemic discrimination and sexual abuse can damage the studio’s revenue streams and its ability to retain employees, saying, “A report such as the one requested would assist shareholders in assessing whether the company is improving its workforce management, whether its actions align with the company’s public statements and whether it remains a sustainable investment.”

While Activision Blizzard is facing multiple lawsuits and investigations in regards to sexism, harassment and discrimination, some employees at the studio are attempting to unionize with the help of the Communications Workers of America. This would be the first union at a major video game studio and could signal a shift in the industry’s longstanding crunch-centric cycle. At Tuesday’s annual meeting, Activision Blizzard shareholders denied a proposal that would’ve added an employee representative to the board of directors, with just 5 percent voting in favor, according to The Washington Post.

At the same time, Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard in a deal worth nearly $69 billion. Microsoft has pledged to respect the rights of workers to unionize. And all the while, Activision Blizzard is still making games.

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Categories
AI

Report: 63% of millennials approve of automation in the workplace

This article is part of a VB special issue. Read the full series: Automation and jobs in the new normal.


According to a new study by the human-centered automation company Hyperscience, 81% of people believe automation can lead to more meaningful work, despite common misperceptions around what automation is, how it’s being used today, and how the U.S. workforce views it.

In its 2021 Automation Pulse Report, Hyperscience found that there continues to be widespread misunderstanding of what automation is. Specifically, while 75% of respondents believe they know what automation is, 55% brought up popular misconceptions when asked to explain that understanding further. Responses included technology existing solely to replace people (17%), automation is a job killer (3%), and conflating AI with automation (10%).

Despite the increasing adoption of automation in today’s digital-first workforce, many respondents did not identify particular benefits and use cases of automation across various industries. While 70% of respondents said automation could add value for the transportation and logistics sector, and 66% believe it adds value for financial services and banking, responses were less convinced of value adds for healthcare (48%), insurance (47%), and government/public sector (45%).

Automation provides more time to focus on valuable tasks. Pie chart. 81% of respondents agree that if automation technology can remove data entry tasks--like manually entering insurance information or details from a handwritten form into a computer--the employee would have more time to focus on more valuable tasks in their everyday job.

One of the bigger highlights from the study specifically focused on millennials, the largest generation in the U.S. labor force today, who are increasingly ready to work side-by-side with this technology. In fact, more than a third (35%) of millennials believe humans and machines can work together and 63% believe automation in the workplace is a good thing — especially if used to alleviate certain work burdens.

Forty-three percent of all respondents agreed with this sentiment, ranking a better employee experience as a result of using automation as the most important part of technological advancement in the workplace. Technology affecting the customer and overall customer experience (34%) ranked a close second, while only 23% of respondents selected the company as the most important beneficiary of technology.

Read the full report by Hyperscience.

This article is part of a VB special issue. Read the full series: Automation and jobs in the new normal.

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