Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, has long been the subject of scrutiny for being one of the highest paid CEOs in the United States. After years of turmoil at Activision Blizzard as well as major job losses and insecurity for staff, many questioned why Kotick was still eligible for his annual US $155 million pay packet in 2021. Despite the scrutiny, shareholders voted to approve the packet — but it appears change is still coming for Kotick’s paycheck.
In a letter to employees sent around on Friday, Kotick acknowledged the company culture issues and allegations of harassment that have dogged Activision Blizzard since at least 2020.
‘My goal – and the goal of our Board, our entire senior corporate team, our business unit leaders, and their teams – is to make sure you have the resources, culture, and commitment from leadership you need to succeed in our collective aspiration to be the model workplace in our industry,’ Kotick said in the letter.
‘The guardrails weren’t in place everywhere to ensure that our values were being upheld. In some cases, people didn’t consistently feel comfortable reporting concerns, or their concerns weren’t always addressed promptly or properly. People were deeply let down and, for that, I am truly sorry.’
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Kotick went on to acknowledge the major challenges facing the company, and declared that further change would be needed to ensure safety and comfort for all staff.
In the letter, Kotick outlined five major changes planned for the company which would help reshape culture and community going forward.
In short, these changes include:
- A new zero-tolerance harassment policy company-wide
- An increase of 50 per cent for women and non-binary people in the Activision-Blizzard workforce, with US $250 million (AU $332 million) going towards accelerating opportunities for diverse talent
- Waiving required arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination claims
- Increased visibility and transparency on pay equity
- Regular progress updates on gender hiring, diversity hiring and workplace progress
Kotick will also take a major pay cut as part of the changes, with a reduction in salary to USD $62,500 (AUD $82,900) ‘until the board has determined that [Activision Blizzard has] achieved the amount of transformational gender-related goals and other commitments described above’.
In the letter, Kotick made clear this referred to his entire annual salary, and that he would not receive any bonuses or be granted equity while the company worked to address its issues.
Given he already received a reported bonus of US $155 million in 2021, it’s likely the salary cut will not be a major blow for the CEO.
Still, the strongly-worded letter and commitment to change is a hopeful step forward in a tumultuous year. Activision Blizzard still has a long way to go to implement real and lasting change to the company’s culture — but hopefully this is a positive sign towards a much better future for company employees.