Blizzard’s Recent Corrective Changes

Bobby Kotick

Activision Blizzard has made some corrective moves towards creating a better workplace this week. 

First CEO Bobby Kotick revealed a new pay cut that would reduce his multimillion-dollar salary to $62,500. Bobby was hesitant to take any blame for the situation early in the revaluations but this appears to be a good start. While this is mostly a PR move, it does show that Bobby knows getting paid bonuses admit employee crisis is not wise. 

Next, the company has given in on some of the employee’s demands. Bobby released a letter to shareholders explaining the new policies going forward. The main points are listed here with full detail at the bottom:

  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

Blizzard also announced the cancelation of BlizzCon 2022. 

“We’ve decided to take a step back and pause on planning the previously announced BlizzConline event scheduled for early next year. This was a tough decision for all of us to make, but it’s the right one. Whatever the event looks like in the future, we also need to ensure that it feels as safe, welcoming, and inclusive as possible.”

Blizzard Post
Cole Cassidy – Formally McCree

The company wants to use this time to focus on games and the employees. This too is a PR move as a BlizzCon would only bring pandamonium, but the focus on internal issues is bound to help. 

Blizzard continues to remove any reference to developers from their games. Even the ‘innocent’ developer names are being removed to play it safe. One of the more prominent name changes is that of Overwatch’s gunslinger, McCree. This week they revealed his new name, Cole Cassidy. I love the new name!

Blizzard still has a way to go. As they release more positive changes, they are arguing the opposite cases in court. Until the case is settled and Blizzard fully admits to the wrongdoing, they can not truly start the healing process. 

Full Details on Blizzard Changes from Bobby Kotick: 

  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 the functional area will be expected to have plans to help fulfill this ambition. Concerning diversity, while we perform better than our peers with 30% of our U.S. workforce from diverse or underrepresented 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 underrepresented 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. 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 concerning 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 our annual ESG report with information on gender hiring, diversity hiring, and workplace progress.

Sources: BlizzPlanet, Blizzard, Overwatch Twitter

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