CEO details anti-harassment push at scandal-hit Activision Blizzard

·2 min read
Scandal-hit video game giant Activision Blizzard's CEO has pledged changes (AFP/DAVID MCNEW)

Activision Blizzard's CEO announced on Thursday measures intended to strengthen anti-harassment protections at the video game giant -- including a cut to his salary -- following accusations of discrimination against women at the firm.

California-based Activision has been hit by employee protests and a state lawsuit alleging the company enabled toxic workplace conditions and sexual harassment against women.

Company CEO Bobby Kotick apologized and said he has asked the board to slash his pay to the California legal minimum of $62,500 until the panel "has determined that we have achieved the transformational gender-related goals".

Shareholders reportedly approved a roughly $154 million compensation package for him earlier this year.

The company is behind franchises such as "Call of Duty," "World of Warcraft" and "Candy Crush.

Kotick also announced a "zero tolerance" policy against harassment, which includes ensuring that employees who report such incidents are "encouraged, protected, and heard."

Several of the company's investigations have shown that employees who have reported harassment have been subject to retaliation.

He added that any employee found to have retaliated against a person who has filed a complaint "will be terminated immediately."

"Our goal is to have the strictest harassment and non-retaliation policies of any employer", Kotick wrote.

Activision Blizzard also announced that it will waive the requirement that alleged victims of harassment or discrimination go through arbitration, which means they will be able to take their case to civil court, a more transparent process.

The CEO also pledged on Thursday to increase by 50 percent the proportion of women and non-binary people, which is currently 23 percent at Activision.

The company will spend $250 million to promote diversity in its hiring.

Activision Blizzard has reached an agreement with a US federal discrimination watchdog to create an $18 million fund to settle claims alleging sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

In mid-October, the video game publisher revealed that "more than 20 people" had left the company in light of reports and accusations, and that more than 20 other employees had been disciplined while remaining employed by the company.

In early October, the governor of California signed into law a stricter framework for the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), which many companies use in disputes with one or more employees.

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