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Bobby Kotick Asks Board for Reduced Salary in a Letter Sent to Employees

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Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick today sent a letter to all employees, where he talks about the launch of a zero-tolerance harassment policy company-wide, an increase of woman and non-binary people in their workforce by 50%, and his salary reduction to the lowest amount California law will allow for people earning a salary, which is $62,500.

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SANTA MONICA, Calif., October 28, 2021--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) CEO Bobby Kotick today sent the following letter to all employees.

October 28, 2021

A few weeks ago, I reiterated our commitment to become the most welcoming, inclusive company in our industry. Today, I want to update you on some initial progress and important, additional steps we are taking to advance our commitment with greater impact, transparency, and urgency.

First, I want to offer my sincere gratitude for your continued focus and dedication to our players – and to each other. You’ve shown incredible resilience throughout the pandemic, exceptional care for colleagues and communities, and the relentless commitment to excellence, creative independence, and purpose that always sets our company – and our franchises – apart. During a tremendously challenging time for so many people, you’ve continued to bring joy and connection to our players and communities around the world.

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.

Over the last decade, as we’ve brought in new companies, grown our workforce, and expanded our business, we believed we had the systems, policies, and people in place to ensure that our company always lived up to its reputation as a great place to work. Clearly, in some vitally important aspects, we didn’t.

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.

Being welcoming and inclusive, in the context of our workplace, is crystal clear. We will still passionately debate ideas, employ healthy skepticism when appropriate, and demand excellence and rigor in all of our pursuits – but we will always treat each other with dignity and respect. And regardless of differences, voices will be heard, perspectives welcomed, and contributions valued.

We are a business fueled by passion and performance. These are cornerstones of our creative excellence but we must constantly recognize, embrace, and celebrate that the very best ideas, the most rigorous execution of those ideas, and ultimately our responsibility to our players and each other are best served by a culture that recognizes and respects that true excellence comes from diverse views, voices, and talents.

We’ve made progress over the last few years fostering that diversity and creating a better work environment – a commitment that has improved in scope and speed in recent months. We’ve tripled our investment in anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training; we’ve made meaningful organizational changes; and we’ve substantially increased resources for reporting and carefully investigating improper behavior.

The EEOC’s investigative process, public discussion on discrimination and harassment, and your reports and suggestions helped shine a light on practices we need to improve, policies that need to be strengthened, and resources we are now adding. The EEOC’s review was a catalyst to sharpen our focus on the ways we can become a company others emulate as a model for workplace excellence and one with an unwavering commitment to its values.

We have a lot more to do if we are to be the company that others emulate.

I want to share five new changes we are implementing, but recognize being a model for workplace excellence will be a dynamic process requiring additional changes and an unrelenting commitment to improvement.

  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 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.

  2. We will 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 –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 fulfill 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 $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.

    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.

Specifics on how these measures will be implemented and tracked will be forthcoming.

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.

There’s a tendency when companies face challenging moments to lose sight of what makes them special, what makes them great. You are a truly special group of people who – through passion, conviction, drive, and determination – keep accomplishing extraordinary things. While the critical work ahead won’t be easy, I am confident our collective commitment to workplace excellence will be achieved.

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.

With thanks and deepest gratitude,
Bobby

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This press release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We may, in some cases, use terms such as "predicts," "believes," "potential," "proposed," "continue," "estimates," "anticipates," "expects," "plans," "intends," "may," "could," "might," "will," "should" or other words that convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes to identify these forward-looking statements. Such statements are subject to numerous important factors, risks and uncertainties that may cause actual events or results to differ materially from the Company’s current expectations. These and other risks are described in the Company’s periodic reports, including the annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K, filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission and available at www.sec.gov. Any forward-looking statements that the Company makes in this press release speak only as of the date of this press release. The Company assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date of this press release.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211028005446/en/

Contacts

Investors and Analysts:
[email protected]
or
Press:
[email protected]

Source: Yahoo

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OK these seem substantial, especially the removal of forced arbitration on several cases (though there is still no blanket removal of forced arbitration).

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The fact that Francis Townsend is still in employment as vice president of corporate affairs and chief compliance officer after trying to shut the employees up and denounce the lawsuit as fake and ungrounded kind of sucks the credibility out of these things for me.

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Hiring women for the point of having women in the company is absurd!
The people with the right skill should be hired, despite their gender, but ignoring all male applicants is absolutely absurd and anti-equality!

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51 minutes ago, Devylknyght said:

People should only be hired based on their ability to do the job. 

Agreed!! That’s a stupid clause, to commit to hiring a certain percentage of one demographic, simply to fill the demographic check box. People should be hired for the ability to the job required, as well as what else they can bring to the company. 

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48 minutes ago, Calin said:

Hiring women for the point of having women in the company is absurd!
The people with the right skill should be hired, despite their gender, but ignoring all male applicants is absolutely absurd and anti-equality!

Once again, they do not give a single F about quality or equality, only business. Do not trust their words, judge them by their actions.

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1 hour ago, Calin said:

Hiring women for the point of having women in the company is absurd!
The people with the right skill should be hired, despite their gender, but ignoring all male applicants is absolutely absurd and anti-equality!

Welcome to the modern world, where people preaching "equality" do not understand the meaning of the word.

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52 minutes ago, Calin said:

Hiring women for the point of having women in the company is absurd!
The people with the right skill should be hired, despite their gender, but ignoring all male applicants is absolutely absurd and anti-equality!

There are two different types of equality involved.

One, your expressed preference, is equality of opportunity. Presumably, everyone has the same chance to excel. Unfortunately, many don't make it because of inherent, even unconscious bias, or various other systemic imbalances. It has resulted in the heavily segregated workforce we have.

The second is equality of outcome. This means we focus on the end result - a diverse workforce - and aggressively seek qualified candidates in under-represented populations. Good diversity has been shown to make companies strong and resilient, able to comprehend and respond well to a wider variety of customer needs.

This does not mean "ignoring all male applicants". This kind of program works not by excluding, but by specifically targeting minority populations much harder for recruitment and promotion.

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1 minute ago, solitha said:

There are two different types of equality involved.

One, your expressed preference, is equality of opportunity. Presumably, everyone has the same chance to excel. Unfortunately, many don't make it because of inherent, even unconscious bias, or various other systemic imbalances. It has resulted in the heavily segregated workforce we have.

The second is equality of outcome. This means we focus on the end result - a diverse workforce - and aggressively seek qualified candidates in under-represented populations. Good diversity has been shown to make companies strong and resilient, able to comprehend and respond well to a wider variety of customer needs.

This does not mean "ignoring all male applicants". This kind of program works not by excluding, but by specifically targeting minority populations much harder for recruitment and promotion.

Nice to have at least one salient voice in here… besides the infantile anti-sjw holes.

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1 minute ago, solitha said:

There are two different types of equality involved.

One, your expressed preference, is equality of opportunity. Presumably, everyone has the same chance to excel. Unfortunately, many don't make it because of inherent, even unconscious bias, or various other systemic imbalances. It has resulted in the heavily segregated workforce we have.

The second is equality of outcome. This means we focus on the end result - a diverse workforce - and aggressively seek qualified candidates in under-represented populations. Good diversity has been shown to make companies strong and resilient, able to comprehend and respond well to a wider variety of customer needs.

This does not mean "ignoring all male applicants". This kind of program works not by excluding, but by specifically targeting minority populations much harder for recruitment and promotion.

America is the Land of Opportunity. Not the Land of Outcome. 

They call them Equal Opportunity Laws for a reason, not Equal Outcome Laws. 

What you call "inherent, even unconscious bias, or various other systemic imbalances" is actually just LIFE. EVERYONE has advantages and disadvantages. That is why it is important to focus on the best person for the job, and not just look for the biggest victims. 

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3 hours ago, Migol said:

The fact that Francis Townsend is still in employment as vice president of corporate affairs and chief compliance officer after trying to shut the employees up and denounce the lawsuit as fake and ungrounded kind of sucks the credibility out of these things for me.

100%, she should have been "released". I also kind of hate the language they are using. Sure, inclusivity can be an issue, but lawsuit was about harassment and terrible working conditions. Yet, they keep mentioning it. One can be harassed by a diverse group of people too, it doesn't change much.

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A significant imbalance in the demographics of a workforce is a clear sign that hiring has not been based on “merit”.

Us straight white dudes are not inherently any better than any other class of people at this work. And yet we make up a large majority of the workforce (I say this as someone who started as a coder in the software development industry a few decades ago).

The systemic oppression in our society has privileged us above others—not for merit, but simply for being born white and male. In a society, like ours, built on oppression, it takes active measures (like so-called “equity hiring”) to counter the biases and move us toward a system where we are actually hiring the best people for the job.

Blizz has a long, long, way to go to get to anything resembling a well-balanced and equitable (in both “opportunity” and “outcome”) workforce. I hope the positive sentiments in the above official statement actually translate into substantive efforts.

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2 hours ago, Calin said:

Hiring women for the point of having women in the company is absurd!
The people with the right skill should be hired, despite their gender, but ignoring all male applicants is absolutely absurd and anti-equality!

They aren’t hiring women for the point of hiring women. What they are doing is saying, when they are given, for example, two equal applicants and one is male and one is female, they will opt to hire the woman to work towards inclusion of women in an industry that has primarily favoured and been dominated by men for decades. 

Blizzard will not be turning down an applicant for the soul purpose of hiring a woman who is less qualified. If you cannot comprehend and understand this, then you are part of the problem. All of the same principles should apply to the hiring of LGBTQIA+ in the industry… 

They are not trying to hire “less men” they are trying to hire a more equal representation of all kinds of people. 

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1 hour ago, Trest said:

A significant imbalance in the demographics of a workforce is a clear sign that hiring has not been based on “merit”.

Us straight white dudes are not inherently any better than any other class of people at this work. And yet we make up a large majority of the workforce (I say this as someone who started as a coder in the software development industry a few decades ago).

The systemic oppression in our society has privileged us above others—not for merit, but simply for being born white and male. In a society, like ours, built on oppression, it takes active measures (like so-called “equity hiring”) to counter the biases and move us toward a system where we are actually hiring the best people for the job.

Blizz has a long, long, way to go to get to anything resembling a well-balanced and equitable (in both “opportunity” and “outcome”) workforce. I hope the positive sentiments in the above official statement actually translate into substantive efforts.

I truly believe that you are feeling this way. But the reality is that as a leading manager who makes the decision to hire people in IT I can tell you that the vast majority of people don't have some hidden oppression towards women. Me and many of my colleagues would love to see more women in science/IT/engineering but unfortunately there are not so many going to IT. 

Why women in general are not that interested in engineering is a different story, but if you loo0k at other fields in a company you will see more women in art, hr, accounting and many more fields.

But maybe it's a different story for your particular company. 😉

P.S. If company is interested in your sexual orientation, probably you don't want to work there. 

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2 hours ago, Trest said:

A significant imbalance in the demographics of a workforce is a clear sign that hiring has not been based on “merit”.

Us straight white dudes are not inherently any better than any other class of people at this work. And yet we make up a large majority of the workforce (I say this as someone who started as a coder in the software development industry a few decades ago).

The systemic oppression in our society has privileged us above others—not for merit, but simply for being born white and male. In a society, like ours, built on oppression, it takes active measures (like so-called “equity hiring”) to counter the biases and move us toward a system where we are actually hiring the best people for the job.

Blizz has a long, long, way to go to get to anything resembling a well-balanced and equitable (in both “opportunity” and “outcome”) workforce. I hope the positive sentiments in the above official statement actually translate into substantive efforts.

I respectfully disagree with everything you just said.

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3 hours ago, Kiraez said:

They aren’t hiring women for the point of hiring women. What they are doing is saying, when they are given, for example, two equal applicants and one is male and one is female, they will opt to hire the woman to work towards inclusion of women in an industry that has primarily favoured and been dominated by men for decades. 

Blizzard will not be turning down an applicant for the soul purpose of hiring a woman who is less qualified. If you cannot comprehend and understand this, then you are part of the problem. All of the same principles should apply to the hiring of LGBTQIA+ in the industry… 

They are not trying to hire “less men” they are trying to hire a more equal representation of all kinds of people. 

Well someone's being very rude.


You and I have no idea how many female applicants they've turned away due to the fact of them being female, so you saying that I'm part of the problem for pointing out that I believe that the most qualified person should get the job, regardless of gender, is a very arrogant thing to say.
 

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Well can see here he is still discriminating poeple.   doesnt anyone know the fair rights act which is part of our constitution created in  1964.  Have a read if you never have before. 

Anyone that used the word DIVERSITY is discriminating against our constitutional rights.  Its clear the wording in that fair rights act our constitutional law.  Yet so many companies and poeple claim diversity, lol the constitution prevents that as its discrimination.

Doing that diversity hiring based on looks or gender is discriminatory in its foundation.  Hire whom is best for the job, not based on their gender or ethnicity thats garbage diversity claim need more women  scam scam scam.

Edited by Supertrix5

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10 hours ago, Kiraez said:

They aren’t hiring women for the point of hiring women. What they are doing is saying, when they are given, for example, two equal applicants and one is male and one is female, they will opt to hire the woman to work towards inclusion of women in an industry that has primarily favoured and been dominated by men for decades. 

Blizzard will not be turning down an applicant for the soul purpose of hiring a woman who is less qualified. If you cannot comprehend and understand this, then you are part of the problem. All of the same principles should apply to the hiring of LGBTQIA+ in the industry… 

They are not trying to hire “less men” they are trying to hire a more equal representation of all kinds of people. 

 

Your understanding of how it works is just WRONG.  You fail to see what you said is incorrect.  Representaion is discriminatory, your usage of other discriptive words dont sway that truth at all.  Cant hire based on a representation, as thats discriminatory at is core foundation.  hiring based on gender against the law you fail to see this fact.  cant hire based on some false claim of need for gender as thats illegal to do.

Edited by Supertrix5
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There are a lot of different interpretations to the whole diversity and representation issue.

But I have to say point number 2 in the letter really doesn't sound right. It really comes across as they are hiring to fill a diversity chart.

Personally I would like to think the intention is to counterbalance the discriminatory behavior against certain groups that may have happened in the past. And by doing this it would correct their workforce representation to what would have occurred naturally as if no discrimination or bias had taken place. They can't fire current employees just because the workforce diversity doesn't look right, but it seems quite clear that mistakes were made and they are doing this to correct that.

If the intention behind this move is true to the wording, it does look really awful. But looking at the bigger picture I can't help but think that it is only fair.

To be honest I don't know what to think about this, I am very conflicted. I believe it is only fair that they hire based on merit, but with their current workforce I get the feeling that it wasn't the case with how they hired people in the past.

Edited by MeOnIV

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22 hours ago, Devylknyght said:

America is the Land of Opportunity. Not the Land of Outcome. 

They call them Equal Opportunity Laws for a reason, not Equal Outcome Laws. 

What you call "inherent, even unconscious bias, or various other systemic imbalances" is actually just LIFE. EVERYONE has advantages and disadvantages. That is why it is important to focus on the best person for the job, and not just look for the biggest victims. 

Not every group has had the same advantages and disadvantages.

When looking for the "best applicant" it has been documented, over and over again, that if you have completely equal applicants, minorities are passed over. Systematically.

Opportunity is not enough. It was a great idea, but it has been shown not to work out in practice. Focusing on outcome works.

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22 hours ago, albabe said:

Nice to have at least one salient voice in here… besides the infantile anti-sjw holes.

Thank you for your comment.

I grew up in the South. Last spring I took a college course, Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination. I'd already drifted from my racist roots, but finding out that my "everyone has equal opportunity so it's fine" mindset was still a form of discrimination (modern-symbolic) kind of rocked my world. I'm still trying to grapple with the new thoughts.

It's kind of scary and I can't really blame anyone for being afraid to face it. Having one's world-view shaken is not a good feeling.

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2 hours ago, solitha said:

Not every group has had the same advantages and disadvantages.

When looking for the "best applicant" it has been documented, over and over again, that if you have completely equal applicants, minorities are passed over. Systematically.

Opportunity is not enough. It was a great idea, but it has been shown not to work out in practice. Focusing on outcome works.

And that is absolutely fine. No one will ever have same advantages. Tough luck. It means you have to try harder, work better so your children will have more advantages in life. This is how life worked for the last millennia. 

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      Due to the ongoing Microsoft acquisition, there was no earnings call for Q4 2021. Instead, Activision Blizzard posted a press release, where we learn about "substantial new content" planned for the Warcraft franchise in 2022, including a new mobile game.
      We summarized highlights of the press release below:
      In 2021, World of Warcraft delivered its strongest engagement and net bookings outside of a Modern expansion year in a decade.  Hearthstone's fourth-quarter net bookings grew year-over-year, driven by a steady cadence of new content. Blizzard is planning substantial new content for the Warcraft franchise in 2022, including new experiences in WoW and Hearthstone, and getting all-new mobile Warcraft content into players' hands for the first time. In the Diablo franchise, Diablo 2 Resurrected sold through more units from its September release until the year-end than any other Activision Blizzard remaster over an equivalent period. On mobile, Diablo Immortal concluded its public testing with positive feedback. Blizzard is making strong progress on its pipeline, including new experiences in Warcraft, ongoing development in Diablo and Overwatch, and an exciting new IP (most likely the recently-unveiled survival game). Activision Blizzard had 371 million monthly active users in Q4 2021. You can read the full press release here.
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