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Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick to take pay cut, announces company-wide changes

Activision Blizzard Share
Activision Blizzard Share (Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

What you need to know

  • Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit, alleging the company allowed sexist workplace behavior to persist.
  • Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is taking a pay cut while introducing company-wide changes.
  • The ABetterABK worker's collective referred to this news as a "huge win" while continuing to push for reform.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick announced on Thursday plans to take a pay cut and immediate company-wide changes, with a goal of having the "strictest harassment and non-retaliation policies of any employer." This comes as Activision Blizzard is facing a lawsuit, alleging that the company allowed abusive, sexist workplace behaviors to go unpunished.

The changes to Activision Blizzard include a zero tolerance harassment policy, increasing the number of women and non-binary people in the workplace, waiving arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination claims, increased visibility on pay equity and providing regular updates on the progress of these changes. Specifically, any employees found to have harassed others under a protected category will be terminated immediately, instead of receiving a written warning.

"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," Kotick said.

Kotick's pay is being dropped to $62,500, which is the lowest amount allowed for a salaried employee under California law. Kotick is also requesting not to take any bonuses during this time. This will remain the case until until the board of directors sees these changes have been fully implemented.

The ABetterABK worker's collective referred to these changes as a "huge win" while noting that there is more work to do, including having the company investigation done by a neutral, unbiased third-party instead of WilmerHale.

Over 20 employees have been let go from Activision Blizzard so far, including the former game director of the upcoming Diablo 4, as well as the namesake for the now-renamed Overwatch hero McCree.

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

7 Comments
  • I'm not sure why people are blaming him directly so much. The problem seems to be more isolated to the blizzard side which Activision has always treated somewhat separately (less so as of late). Yes there are people to blame, but there is no feasible way a ceo of such a large company would be able to keep an eye on everything, especially when it comes to human resources. There's people for that. I honestly believe he is just trying his best to lead the company through this and hopefully come out stronger on the other side.
  • It's possible he's just trying his best, but his best apparently wasn't good enough. To paraphrase a certain leading politician, the buck stops at the top. That includes not just the executives, but the board and leading shareholders.
  • "A zero tolerance harassment policy, increasing the number of women and non-binary people in the workplace, waiving arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination claims, increased visibility on pay equity and providing regular updates on the progress of these changes. Specifically, any employees found to have harassed others under a protected category will be terminated immediately, instead of receiving a written warning." As long as the process is fair and suitably transparent, these sound like reasonable reforms. The termination one is slippery though. Really bad offenders had it coming, and it's good to make expectations crystal clear, but more marginal cases should have a chance at redemption.
  • Definitely painting with a wide brush. At the same time, the sheer volume, scale and severity of the allegations might warrant it. Make it abundantly clear no nonsense will be tolerated. No matter what, I hope the workers have a better environment, that's the most important thing.
  • It's rare to hear of a CEO taking a minimum salary. Sounds like they were gonna fire him.
  • That's what usually happens when a major scandal breaks and it's often phrased as a resignation and holding themself (CEO) accountable in order to protect the company image (brand). However, social media and the internet has turned such practises on it's head - as the newscycle is no longer just 24 hours. It's effectively never ending, as what goes on social media and the internet as a whole... is never removed completedly. Not to mention, no one would want to be interim CEO with such a scandal continuing to unfold as the legal case is still ongoing.
  • This should have been done alot earlier on... better late than never. It remains to be seen what company-wide changes are actually implemented and does the Activision Blizzard stick to them in a years time, a few years time and so on. Because this is never going to go away.