Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick Asks For A Reduction In Salary And Bonus Cuts Amid Lawsuits

Days after a judge reject­ed Activi­sion Bliz­zard’s peti­tion to pause Cal­i­for­ni­a’s law­suit, the game com­pa­ny announced a series of changes it’s mak­ing to help improve its cor­po­rate cul­ture. Addi­tion­al­ly, CEO Bob­by Kotick asked the board to cut his salary to the low­est amount pos­si­ble for Cal­i­for­nia stan­dards, as well as to remove all of his bonus­es. Activi­sion Bliz­zard is also waiv­ing manda­to­ry arbi­tra­tion, some­thing the work­er’s advo­ca­cy group had been ask­ing for.

In a news release, Kotick acknowl­edged Activi­sion Bliz­zard’s weak­ness­es, say­ing “The guardrails weren’t in place every­where to ensure that our val­ues were being upheld.”

In some cas­es, peo­ple didn’t con­sis­tent­ly feel com­fort­able report­ing con­cerns, or their con­cerns weren’t always addressed prompt­ly or prop­er­ly. Peo­ple were deeply let down and, for that, I am tru­ly sor­ry,” he said. “Being wel­com­ing and inclu­sive, in the con­text of our work­place, is crys­tal clear. We will still pas­sion­ate­ly debate ideas, employ healthy skep­ti­cism when appro­pri­ate, and demand excel­lence and rig­or in all of our pursuits–but we will always treat each oth­er with dig­ni­ty and respect. And regard­less of dif­fer­ences, voic­es will be heard, per­spec­tives wel­comed, and con­tri­bu­tions valued.”

Kotick added that Activi­sion Bliz­zard has “tripled” its invest­ment in anti-harass­ment and anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion train­ing, as well as mak­ing “mean­ing­ful orga­ni­za­tion changes.” Kotick also said the com­pa­ny has “sub­stan­tial­ly increased resources for report­ing and care­ful­ly inves­ti­gat­ing improp­er behavior.”

Kotick did say Activi­sion Bliz­zard still has “a lot more to do if we are to be the com­pa­ny that oth­ers emulate.”

There are five spe­cif­ic changes that Activi­sion Bliz­zard is look­ing to imple­ment to improve its cor­po­rate cul­ture. This includes a new zero-tol­er­ance harass­ment pol­i­cy and a 50% increase of women and non-bina­ry peo­ple in the work­force, bring­ing the total to one third. That num­ber cur­rent­ly stands around 23%. Kotick also promised that Activi­sion Bliz­zard will “increase vis­i­bil­i­ty on pay equi­ty” by releas­ing new find­ing annu­al­ly. For 2020 in the US, women at com­pa­ny earned “slight­ly more” than men for com­pa­ra­ble work. Kotick also stat­ed that Activi­sion will “pro­vide reg­u­lar progress updates” so every­one can see how the com­pa­ny is doing in com­par­i­son to its goals.

You can check out the five changes below, as writ­ten by Kotick.

  1. We are launch­ing a new zero-tol­er­ance harass­ment pol­i­cy com­pa­ny-wide – In the past, when we dis­cov­ered and sub­stan­ti­at­ed harass­ment, we ter­mi­nat­ed some employ­ees and pro­vid­ed ver­bal or writ­ten warn­ings or dif­fer­ent dis­ci­pli­nary actions to oth­ers. In ret­ro­spect, to achieve our goals for work­place excel­lence, this approach is no longer ade­quate. We need tougher rules and con­sis­tent mon­i­tor­ing across the entire com­pa­ny to make sure reports are being han­dled cor­rect­ly and dis­ci­pline is appro­pri­ate and swift.
    As a result, we are imple­ment­ing a zero-tol­er­ance pol­i­cy across Activi­sion Bliz­zard that will be applied con­sis­tent­ly. Our goal is to have the strictest harass­ment and non-retal­i­a­tion poli­cies of any employ­er, and we will con­tin­ue to exam­ine and tight­en our stan­dards to achieve this goal every­where we do busi­ness.
    Any Activi­sion Bliz­zard employ­ee found through our new inves­tiga­tive process­es and resources to have retal­i­at­ed against any­one for mak­ing a com­pli­ance com­plaint will be ter­mi­nat­ed imme­di­ate­ly.
    In many oth­er instances of work­place mis­con­duct, we will no longer rely on writ­ten warn­ings: ter­mi­na­tion will be the out­come, includ­ing in most cas­es of harass­ment based on any legal­ly pro­tect­ed cat­e­go­ry.
    Future employ­ment con­tracts and equi­ty awards will be clear: ter­mi­na­tion for these rea­sons will result in the imme­di­ate for­fei­ture of future com­pen­sa­tion.
    We also want to ensure that employ­ees who file reports are encour­aged, pro­tect­ed, and heard. For all reports of harass­ment and retal­i­a­tion, we will inves­ti­gate the alle­ga­tion and whether the Activi­sion Bliz­zard per­son­nel who received the report of such behav­ior took the appro­pri­ate steps to pro­tect the integri­ty of our com­pli­ance process­es.
    There may be some places around the world where local law may restrict some of these mea­sures. In those cas­es, we will apply the high­est per­mis­si­ble stan­dards and the strongest pos­si­ble discipline.
  2. We will increase the per­cent­age of women and non-bina­ry peo­ple in our work­force by 50% and will invest $250 mil­lion to accel­er­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for diverse tal­ent –Today, approx­i­mate­ly 23% of our glob­al employ­ee pop­u­la­tion iden­ti­fies as women or non-bina­ry. Build­ing on the suc­cess that King and oth­er busi­ness units have achieved, we will seek to increase our per­cent­age of women and non-bina­ry pro­fes­sion­als by approx­i­mate­ly 50% – to more than one-third across the entire com­pa­ny – with­in the next five years and hope­ful­ly faster. Each fran­chise team, busi­ness unit, and func­tion­al area will be expect­ed to have plans to help ful­fill this ambi­tion.
    With respect to diver­si­ty, while we per­form bet­ter than our peers with 30% of our U.S. work­force from diverse or under-rep­re­sent­ed com­mu­ni­ties, broad­en­ing this progress will con­tin­ue to be a sig­nif­i­cant focus of mine as well as com­pa­ny, busi­ness unit, and fran­chise lead­er­ship.
    To fur­ther this com­mit­ment, we’ll be invest­ing an addi­tion­al $250 mil­lion over the next 10 years in ini­tia­tives that fos­ter expand­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties in gam­ing and tech­nol­o­gy for under-rep­re­sent­ed com­mu­ni­ties. This com­mit­ment includes inspir­ing diverse tal­ent to pur­sue career oppor­tu­ni­ties in gam­ing through an ABK Acad­e­my that includes part­ner­ships with col­leges and tech­ni­cal schools serv­ing under-rep­re­sent­ed com­mu­ni­ties, men­tor­ships for par­tic­i­pants, and a rotat­ing appren­tice­ship pro­gram that leads to game devel­op­ment jobs, sim­i­lar to the pro­grams we began with the Unit­ed Negro Col­lege Fund and Man­age­ment Lead­er­ship for Tomor­row. We will also pro­vide learn­ing, devel­op­ment, and advanced degree oppor­tu­ni­ties for cur­rent employ­ees to increase the num­ber of women and those from under-rep­re­sent­ed com­mu­ni­ties in lead­er­ship posi­tions across the com­pa­ny and in our indus­try.
    In the com­ing months, Bri­an Bulatao, Julie Hodges, and I will share details about how we are oper­a­tional­iz­ing these goals and imple­ment­ing and mea­sur­ing this expand­ed investment.
  3. Based on feed­back from employ­ees, we are waiv­ing required arbi­tra­tion of sex­u­al harass­ment and dis­crim­i­na­tion claims – For any Activi­sion Bliz­zard employ­ee who choos­es not to arbi­trate an indi­vid­ual claim of sex­u­al harass­ment, unlaw­ful dis­crim­i­na­tion, or relat­ed retal­i­a­tion aris­ing in the future, the com­pa­ny will waive any oblig­a­tion to do so.
  4. We will con­tin­ue to increase vis­i­bil­i­ty on pay equi­ty – As described in the recent note from our Pres­i­dent, Daniel Ale­gre, and our Chief Admin­is­tra­tive Offi­cer, Bri­an Bulatao, the com­pa­ny con­tin­ues to focus on pay equi­ty for employ­ees. In fact, our U.S. analy­sis showed that women at the com­pa­ny on aver­age earned slight­ly more than men for com­pa­ra­ble work in 2020. To ensure trans­paren­cy on our con­tin­u­ing com­mit­ment to pay equi­ty, we will report these results annually.
  5. We will pro­vide reg­u­lar progress updates – We will be mon­i­tor­ing the progress of our busi­ness units, fran­chise teams, and func­tion­al lead­ers with respect to work­place ini­tia­tives and we will pro­vide a sta­tus report quar­ter­ly. We also will be adding a ded­i­cat­ed focus on this vital work in our annu­al report to share­hold­ers and in our annu­al ESG report with infor­ma­tion on gen­der hir­ing, diver­si­ty hir­ing, and work­place progress.

Kotick asked the board of direc­tors to cut his pay to $62,500, the low­est amount allowed by Cal­i­for­nia law. Kotick will not be receiv­ing any bonus­es either. “To be clear, this is a reduc­tion in my over­all com­pen­sa­tion, not just my salary. I am ask­ing not to receive any bonus­es or be grant­ed any equi­ty dur­ing this time,” he said.

In 2020, Kotick made $154 mil­lion in total com­pen­sa­tion.

Kotick added his pay will only return to for­mer amount if and when the com­pa­ny achieves its “trans­for­ma­tion­al gen­der-relat­ed goals and oth­er com­mit­ments” as deter­mined by the board.

I tru­ly wish not a sin­gle employ­ee had had an expe­ri­ence at work that result­ed in hurt, humil­i­a­tion, or worse–and to those who were affect­ed, I sin­cere­ly apol­o­gize. You have my com­mit­ment that we will do every­thing pos­si­ble to hon­or our val­ues and cre­ate the work­place every mem­ber of this team deserves,” Kotick said.

He added, “I am grate­ful for how much peo­ple care about this com­pa­ny, and I appre­ci­ate that many past and present employ­ees have reached out with their thoughts, con­cerns, com­plaints, and sug­ges­tions. Your expe­ri­ences, so coura­geous­ly shared, serve as rea­son and reminder for why it is so impor­tant for us to do bet­ter. And we will.”

I am a Platinum lover and an ex- Cod-aholic. I've been playing games since I was 5 years old and I refuse to quit, despite my mother's attempts to get me to. God of War and its successors are my all time favorite games.

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