The letter announces five new changes coming to the company including zero-tolerance towards harassment, increase in women and non-binary employees, waiving arbitration and pay equity.
In a letter to its employees, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has outlined some steps the company is taking to improve workplace conditions and fostering inclusiveness. In the statement, which is also an apology for letting people down, he has also asked the Board of Directors to reduce his salary.
Activision Blizzard is facing several lawsuits over its workplace environment, sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
In a letter to his employees Bobby Kotick outlined five new changes coming to the company:
Launching a new zero-tolerance harassment policy company-wide
Activision Blizzard will implement tougher rules and consistent monitoring to correctly handle reports and ensure discipline is swift.
There will be a consistent zero-tolerance harassment policy and Activision Blizzard aims to have the strictest harassment and non-retaliation policies of any employer. It remains to be seen if these measures are enough to provide a safe work-space for its employees.
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.
An 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
The company aims to increase the percentage of women and non-binary employees by 50%. This means over 1/3rd of its employees will be non-binary or women within the next five years.
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.
The company will further invest $250 million over the next ten years in various initiatives for under-represented communities. Blizzard will reveal more details on this investment and operations in the next few months.
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.
Activision Blizzard will continue to increase visibility on pay equity
One of the biggest concerns in the recent backlash against Activision Blizzard was the gender pay disparity. Women were generally required to work more for lesser pay compared to their male counterparts. An unfair practice, superiors also consistently turned a blind eye to any such complaints.
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.
And finally Regular Progress Reports
Assigning lofty goals (and long-ones in this case) is often the easier part of promises. But Activision Blizzard promises a quarterly status report.
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.
Bobby Kotick Takes a Pay Cut
Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard was under the lens recently due to his high compensation, even as the company laid off nearly 800 workers. The layoffs took place despite a record revenue year and a 9% bump to shareholder valuations.
Lastly, I want to ensure that every available resource is being used in the service of becoming the industry leader in workplace excellence. Accordingly, I have asked our Board of Directors to reduce my total compensation until the Board has determined that we have achieved the transformational gender-related goals and other commitments described above. Specifically, I have asked the Board to reduce my pay to the lowest amount California law will allow for people earning a salary, which this year is $62,500. 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.
This letter follows lengthy and messy with various legal authorities. Activision Blizzard’s lawyers requested DFEH lawsuit which was denied.