- Activision Blizzard has hired Julie Hodges as its new chief people officer effective Sept. 21, the company announced Tuesday.
- Hodges, the current senior vice president of corporate HR and compensation, benefits and talent acquisition at Disney, will take over for departing Activision Blizzard executive Claudine Naughton. The video game publisher also announced the hire of Sandeep Dube, senior vice president of revenue management at Delta Air Lines, as its chief commercial officer effective Sept. 27.
- Hodges is a 32-year member of Disney and has been a senior vice president at the company since 2009, according to her LinkedIn profile. "Julie is the seasoned leader we need to ensure we are the most inspiring, equitable and emulated entertainment company in the world," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement.
The company announced the changes weeks after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a civil suit against it, alleging claims of gender-based pay discrimination, sex-based discrimination and workplace sexual harassment.
The suit led to a wave of criticism and backlash not only from consumers and gaming industry peers, but also from the company's own employees, a portion of whom staged a walkout.
Organizing as the ABK Workers Alliance, Activision Blizzard employees called on the company to meet a list of four demands: an end to forced arbitration agreements; adoption of inclusive recruitment and hiring practices; increased pay transparency; and auditing of ABK policies and procedures by a neutral third-party selected by an employee-led task force.
In addition to Naughton's departure, subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment announced Aug. 3 that studio leader J. Allen Brack — named in the DFEH suit — would step down from his position.
On the same day as Activision Blizzard announced its decision to hire Hodges, the Communications Workers of American labor union filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company, alleging it used "coercive tactics to attempt to prevent its employees from exercising their rights to stand together and demand a more equitable, sustainable, and diverse workplace."
Hodges will be tasked with leading an HR department that was "not held in high regard" by employees and that allegedly handled harassment complaints "in a perfunctory and dismissive manner," DFEH said. In previous interviews with HR Dive, industry observers indicated that the state's allegations described a work environment marred by routine harassment and discrimination, as well as an HR department that enabled that environment.