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Activision Blizzard CEO commits to waiving forced arbitration, and a temporary paycut

An employee group declare the new plan "a huge win"

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has detailed plans for the company to rebuild itself following numerous legal cases and protests over alleged harrassment, discrimination, and retaliation at the company. Key points include a policy of zero-tolerance for harassment and an end to forced abitration in claims of sexual harrassment and discrimination. An employee group call this "a huge win". And Kotick himself has volunteered to take a huge pay cut until they achieve their stated goals.

The company's initial response to allegations was so weak and dismissive that over 2000 current and former employees signed an open letter condemning it, and many staged a walkout. Kotick's letter, initially sent to employees then published online, is better. He laid out five main points for the new plan:

  1. We are launching a new zero-tolerance harassment policy company-wide
  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
  3. Based on feedback from employees, we are waiving required arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination claims
  4. We will continue to increase visibility on pay equity
  5. We will provide regular progress updates

His letter has more details on the individual points, if you're interested, including admitting that their previous disciplinary efforts were insufficient. Many of the other points had been demanded by ABetterABK, a group of employees.

"This is what happens when we work together to create a better future for game devs in our company," ABetterAKB tweeted in response. "Together we will continue to push for other changes that need to be made so that we can make a better ABK."

The group added, "While today was a huge win for us, we remain vigilant and continue to push for other industry practices that need to change. We still stand firm by our demand that the investigation must be done by an unbiased third party, of which WilmerHale is not one."

"We continue to push for light to be shed on other industry practices, like crunch, which can be especially harmful the health of game devs, and especially the health of disabled and chronically ill game devs," they continued. They also pointed out that the ABetterUbisoft group still have unmet demands.

Kotick's letter said the company "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," he continued. "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."

Until the company board determine they have met the transformational goals, Kotick says, he'll earn California's lowest legal salary, $62,500. No bonuses or equity either. Nice gesture. I'm sure he'll get by on that pay: he has reportedly pulled in $461 million in total compensation (including stock) since 2007.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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