Activision Blizzard's CEO Bobby Kotick has announced several corrective measures to aggressively tackle the toxic workplace culture that the gaming behemoth has become branded in recent months. In an open letter, Kotick revealed that he would also take a minimum wage pay cut of $62,500 until the company meets its commitments.
Kotick's address to all Activision Blizzard employees comes just days after a U.S. federal judge denied the publisher's petition to pause the investigation into the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing's (DFEH) explosive lawsuit. This suit included allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, and fostering a pervasive "frat boy" work culture.
Activision Blizzard CEO slashes his salary to $62.5K, waiving all bonuses
In an official statement, Kotick said that he asked the board of directors to cut his earnings to the minimum permissible salary under California law, which is $62,500 per annum, so that "every available resource is being used in the service of becoming the industry leader in workplace excellence."
"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," Kotick said.
Kotick also mentioned that Activision Blizzard tripled their investment into anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training and would sharpen its focus on becoming a company others could emulate for workplace excellence.
He continued to highlight five new changes being implemented at the company.
1. Activision Blizzard will roll out a new zero-tolerance harassment policy company-wide.
Kotick's statement read that "tougher rules and consistent monitoring" were required to ensure reports were handled correctly, with swift and appropriate disciplinary action.
The statement continued to read: "Our goal is to have the strictest harassment and non-retaliation policies of any employee." Kotick also added that "any Activision Blizzard employee found through [its] new investigative processes and resources to have retaliated against anyone for making a compliance complaint will be terminated immediately."
In addition to this, "termination for these reasons will result in the immediate forfeiture of future compensation," Kotick wrote, adding: "We also want to ensure that employees who file reports are encouraged, protected, and heard."
2. The percentage of women and non-binary people in the workforce will increase by 50%, and $250 million will be invested to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent.
In the letter, Kotick wrote: "With respect to diversity, while we perform better than our peers with 30% of our U.S. workforce from diverse or underrepresented 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 ten years in initiatives that foster expanded opportunities in gaming and technology for under-represented communities [...] I will share details about how we are operationalizing these goals and implementing and measuring this expanded investment," his statement continued.
3. Activision Blizzard will waive the required arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination claims
Kotick continued to write: "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. Activision Blizzard will continue to increase visibility on pay equity.
Per a recent note from Activision Blizzard's President Daniel Alegre and Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulatao, it was noted that the company would continue to focus on employee pay equity. The report also cited data showing that women at the company 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," Kotick concluded.
5. Activision Blizzard will provide regular progress updates.
The progress of business units, franchise teams, and functional leaders concerning workplace initiatives will be monitored and will provide a status report quarterly. Kotick noted that Activision Blizzard will "be adding a dedicated focus on this vital work in [its] annual report to shareholders and in [its] annual ESG report with information on gender hiring, diversity hiring, and workplace progress."
Kotick indicated that Activision Blizzard is taking "swift actions to be the compassionate, caring company" employees came to work. He also made it clear that there was "no place anywhere at our Company for discrimination, harassment, or unequal treatment of any kind."
At this time, it's speculative whether or not Kotick's intentions are genuine or whether this is a desperate attempt to save face and preemptively mitigate the damages resultant of the ongoing lawsuits currently embroiling the company -- although this is just my opinion.
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Featured image courtesy of Activision.