It’s not been a great year for Activision Blizzard following a slew of misconduct and sexual harassment allegations and Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is now attempting to address it.
Back in July staff walked out following the DFEH lawsuit which cited cases of sexual harassment and a “frat boy” culture, especially against transgender women, women of color, nonbinary people, and other minority groups.
Staff at the company demanded a number of changes at the company which included the following:
1. An end to mandatory arbitration clauses in all employee contracts, current, and future. Arbitration clauses protect abusers and limit the ability of victims to seek restitution.
2. The adoption of recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and promotion policies designed to improve representation among employees at all levels, agreed upon by employees in a company-wide Diversity, Equity & Inclusion organization. Current practices have led to women, in particular women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups that are vulnerable to gender discrimination not being hired fairly for new roles when compared to men.
3. Publication of data on relative compensation (including equity grants and profit sharing), promotion rates, and salary ranges for employees of all genders and ethnicities at the company. Current practices have led to aforementioned groups not being paid or promoted fairly.
4. Empower a company-wide Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion task force to hire a third party to audit ABK’s reporting structure, HR department, and executive staff. It is imperative to identify how current systems have failed to prevent employee harassment, and to propose new solutions to address these issues.
Today there has actually been some progress following a letter from Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick to staff. As part of the shake-up the following changes are being brought in at the company:
- A zero-tolerance harassment policy will be brought in company-wide
- Anyone who retaliates against anyone who makes a complaint will be terminated immediately
- Increase in the percentage of women and non-binary people in our workforce by 50% and will invest $250 million to accelerate opportunities for diverse talent.
- Waiving required arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination claims.
- Increase visibility on pay equity.
- A quarterly status report on progress on all workplace initiatives.
In a move that may be a shock to some, Bobby Kotick has requested that the board reduce his total compensation to $62,500, this is the lowest amount California Law will allow for people learning salary. Kotick clarified that he will also not be taking any bonuses or equity until “transformational gender-related goals and other commitments” are met by the company. Note that last year Kotick took home $154.6 million.
Based on the letter today, it appears that the company aims to meet employee demands outlined earlier this year.
Kotick concluded his letter by adding:
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.
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
There’s no doubt the reputation of Activision Blizzard has sunk to an all-time low and changes had to be made to salvage it. These changes are a step in the right direction.
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