Ahead of the company's next investor call on November 2, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has asked the board of directors to reduce his salary to the minimum as he names improvements the company intends to commit to in order to do better. This also comes with an apology. Whether it will make a difference is to be seen.
According to a letter shared on the company's investor page he asked for his pay to be cut down to $62,500 with no bonuses or compensation on top of his salary until they have “achieved the transformational gender-related goals and other commitments". So what are these goals and commitments?
The announced promises and goals seem in line with an explanation to follow the proposed settlement with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in which the details of that agreement included agreeing to monitoring, promising to devote resources to programs to help women and other underrepresented groups to get meaningful opportunities in gaming. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has moved to block the settlement, with Activision Blizzard most recently trying to pause or dismiss the DFEH case, and failing in court.
The EEOC review and proposal means the launch of a company-wide zero tolerance harassment policy that will be enforced more quickly, as well as have a consistent monitoring aspect to it. Employees that are retaliating against other employees for making complaints or bring up a dispute will be fired. The company is also waving forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment and discrimination claims, but notably is limiting that to new contracts and is only limiting those arbitration releases for certain types of accusations. Unlike Bungie for instance, which is getting rid of enforced arbitration across its contracts.
Other promises are a commitment to raise the percentage of women and non-binary people who work at the company by 50% along with another $250 million to create and foster opportunities for diverse talent. The company also promises "visibility" on pay equity.
Finally, Kotick issued an apology, saying “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”. With a promise to do better, and we’ll see what happens next in this legal tangle affecting Activision Blizzard and numerous employees who want and deserve better.