Bobby Kotick Takes Another Pay Cut, Waives Arbitration In Letter To Staff

Bobby Kotick Takes Another Pay Cut, Waives Arbitration In Letter To Staff
Bobby Kotick kind of smiles for the camera. (Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

In the wake of all that’s been happening at Activision Blizzard, CEO Bobby Kotick is taking to meet his commitment to inclusiveness. Among them, waiving arbitration and having his salary cut once again.

Kotick outlined five new changes the company is taking in a letter to staff:

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 behaviour 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 $US250 (A$333) 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 fulfil 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 $333 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.

This past July, Kotick issued a statement regarding the harassment allegations at Activision Blizzard. Organisers of the company’s employee walkout responded, pointing out that one of the things that Kotick did not address was ending forced arbitration for all employees. The exec’s most recent letter states that Activision Blizzard will not waive forced arbitration.

Kotick’s earlier pay cut this past April brought his salary down to $US875,000 (A$1,164,363) from $US1,750,000 (A$2,328,725) — though, he was and is certainly still rich. In today’s letter, he is asking for an even bigger salary reduction.

“Lastly, I want to ensure that every available resource is being used in the service of becoming the industry leader in workplace excellence,” writes Kotick. “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.”

To be more exact, Kotick asked the Board to cut his pay to a base salary under California law, which is $US62,500 ($83,169).

“To be clear, this is a reduction in my overall compensation, not just my salary,” added the CEO. “I am asking not to receive any bonuses or be granted any equity during this time.”

Comments

  • Based Bobby.

    “… 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. ”

    If some people put in the hours on overtime (mostly unpaid, some of it paid) and earn more for it, what’s the issue here?

    • Wasn’t part of the original complaints were the frat boys were dumping their work on female colleagues… average earn doesn’t mean jack, in a company that has promoted crunch development culture where long hours are the norm, not the exception.

    • Because it doesn’t fit the leftist narrative. No one wants to hear that people got paid for the work they put in. They want to hear that men got paid more for doing nothing while the women slaved away endlessly for peanuts.

    • I’m actually struggling to make sense of your point here, but you do seem curiously willing to accept his self-serving narrative , and opposed to your cynical take on just about anything else you deem fit to drop a turd about into the Kotaku comments section.

      Women get paid a tiny fraction more than men, on average, based on… what, exactly? Certainly there’s no mention of overtime in the article, where does this take of yours even come from?

      Perhaps women spend an average of 3 years in entry level roles, collecting annual loyalty increments along the way while men are promoted on average in 2, moving up into a completely different pay grade? We really don’t know.

      Seriously dude, even Bobby Kotick is willing to accept that there’s an issue here, yet Gamer Joker is still grasping around for snippets of quote that really truly for reals prove that there’s nothing at all to see here folks, move along, move along…

      • Except the “pay gap” myth never takes into account hours worked either. If gender theory is what companies are being held accountable to, then shouldn’t their own farcical accounting apply also? (ie doesnt matter about hours worked, only that there is an imbalance – oh wait, does that only count if women are the ones getting paid less here?)

        • You’re wrong. There is a lot of excellent academic work that has bent over backwards to ensure that like is being compared with like, including hours worked, including by highly credible organisations such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

          Not to mention drop after drop of individual data points in entertainment, sport and the like that have repeatedly shown better known and higher grossing female actors and sportspeople being paid less than their male peers.

          Not to mention that traditional female dominated professions inevitably get paid less than traditionally male dominated professions for the exact same qualifications and experience levels.

          Now no doubt you have some other explanation for why the above situations exist, despite your blunt assertion that it’s all about hours. Except no doubt, even when hours are exactly the same, you’ll still come back with some other different but still convenient explanation for the inconsistency, like that women just aren’t ambitious enough, amiright?

          The fact that you’ve taken what you want from a couple of slanted or overly simplistic articles to support your gut feeling that there is no such thing as sex discrimination says far more about you than it does about the topic you’re commenting on.

    • The key word is “comparable work”. Even if they pay around the same for that, the proportion of women in senior higher paying roles is probably lower then in the company overall.

  • Nice start, but the real last step is the meaningful one: open the doors to unions. Let the workers organize and collectively bargain.

    • Yep. Corporations tend to make of lot of promises to control their issues internally, especially when they’re in PR damage-control mode. It doesn’t truly end until the workforce has the power to police these issues themselves.

  • The pay cut is pretty funny when you consider that Kotick’s net worth is estimated to be over half a billion USD. You’d usually see it when a company is struggling to pay its staff, but this seems like pure PR.

  • So… why did that take so long?
    3 months since the lawsuit got filed, 2-3 years since the original investigation(s) started. Over a decade of documented abuse in the company.

  • Pay equality and anti harrassment policies sound great. Diversity and inclusion, not so much. If you want true equality, the best person for the job should get the job. Make the hiring process as blind as possible. Quotas breed resentment because they are in themselves, discriminatory. They are going to overcorrect far too much and be run by the pink haired alphabet brigade. Like this publication

    • Isn’t it funny though, that the best person for a job so often happens to be white, straight and male. I mean, if you start from the assumption that straight white males are just naturally more talented than the rest of us, well, then it’s no mystery why they dominate in a colour and gender blind meritocracy, eh? We only want to employ the best, after all.

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