Entertainment

Activision Blizzard CEO cuts his $154 MILLION salary to $62.5K and apologizes for ‘frat boy culture’


The CEO of video game maker Activision Blizzard is slashing his pay and overhauling the company’s sexual harassments policy as it faces investigations from multiple state and federal agencies. 

Longtime CEO Bobby Kotick, one of the highest-paid chief executive in the country, will cut his yearly compensation from $154 million to just $62,500 – the lowest minimum salary allowed by California law.

The pay cut includes bonuses and equity for an unspecified duration.

‘I am asking not to receive any bonuses or be granted any equity during this time,’ Kotick said. 

The CEO ‘s annual salary was about $1.5 million, with the other $152.5 million coming from bonuses and other incentives placing him sixth among highest paid CEOs  in 2021, according to equilar.com.

Activision Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com about Kotick’s pay cut. 

Longtime Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will cut his $154 million pay to $62,500 amid multiple state and federal sexual harassments investigations into the company

The Santa Monica, California game developer has already paid $18 million to the EEOC

The Santa Monica, California game developer has already paid $18 million to the EEOC

World of Warcraft

Call of Duty

The Fortune 500 company is responsible for World of Warcraft, Call of Duty and Candy Crush

His announcement was part of a letter, shared with employees and made public on Thursday, in which he announced a new zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and the end of forced arbitration – opening the door for employees to sue the company if they feel they’ve been wronged.

Activision Blizzard is based in Santa Monica and develops the games Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Candy Crush and Guitar Hero, among others games played by 100 million people worldwide.

The 10,000-employee company has faced a slew of government action into its workplace culture and numerous claims of sexual harassment. 

In July, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the Fortune 500 company over what it called a ‘frat boy’ culture.

The lawsuit alleges that women make up only 20 percent of the workforce and get lower starting pay, fewer promotions, are fired more often and are subject to ‘constant sexual harassment.’  

‘Male employees proudly come into work hungover, play video games for long periods of time during work while delegating their responsibilities to female employees, engage in banter about their sexual encounters, talk openly about female bodies, and joke about rape,’ the lawsuit states.

The suit names Blizzard President J. Allen Brack, who stepped down in August, and longtime World of Warcraft developer Alex Afrasiabi, who quietly left the company last year.

Former World of Warcraft developer Alex Afrasiabi was referenced in a state lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in July. He quietly left the company last year

Former World of Warcraft developer Alex Afrasiabi was referenced in a state lawsuit against Activision Blizzard in July. He quietly left the company last year 

Afrasiabi poses with a portrait of convicted rapist Bill Cosby and other male workers at BlizzCon 2013. The state lawsuit said Afrasiabi kept a 'Cosby Suite' to lure women

Afrasiabi poses with a portrait of convicted rapist Bill Cosby and other male workers at BlizzCon 2013. The state lawsuit said Afrasiabi kept a ‘Cosby Suite’ to lure women

It alleges that Afrasiabi had a so-called ‘Cosby Suite’ at a hotel during corporate events.

‘During a company event (an annual convention called Blizz Con [sic]) Afrasiabi would hit on female employees, telling him [sic] he wanted to marry them, attempting to kiss them, and putting his arms around them,’ the complaint reads.

‘This was in plain view of other male employees, including supervisors, who had to intervene and pull him off female employees. Afrasiabi was so known to engage in harassment of females that his suite was nicknamed the ‘Crosby Suite’ [sic] after alleged rapist Bill Crosby [sic].’

The video game blog Kotaku posted screenshots from social media showing Afrasiabi and other male employees posing with a framed portrait of Cosby, a convicted serial rapist and former comedian.

Activision Blizzard has already agreed to pay $18 million to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to settle a sexual harassment investigation, according to the Wall Street Journal.

‘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,’ Kotick said Thursday. 

‘You have my commitment that we will do everything possible to honor our values and create the workplace every member of this team deserves.’

In the suit, the gaming giant behind Call of Duty and Candy Crush is accused of having a sexist 'frat boy culture' where female staff are 'groped' by male coworkers and subjected to 'jokes about rape'

In the suit, the gaming giant behind Call of Duty and Candy Crush is accused of having a sexist ‘frat boy culture’ where female staff are ‘groped’ by male coworkers and subjected to ‘jokes about rape’

The 'Cosby Suite' was given as an example of Afrasiabi's alleged behavior, with the suit describing him as 'a harasser' (above) who 'was permitted to engage in blatant sexual harassment with little to no repercussions' because of his seniority

The ‘Cosby Suite’ was given as an example of Afrasiabi’s alleged behavior, with the suit describing him as ‘a harasser’ (above) who ‘was permitted to engage in blatant sexual harassment with little to no repercussions’ because of his seniority

The company also agreed to an outside monitor to make sure it’s complying with he settlement agreement.

The federal Securities and Exchange Commission has also subpoenaed Kotick and several other top employees in the matter, the Journal reported.

On Thursday, Kotick, 58, announced his substantial pay cut along with new policies governing sexual harassment.

‘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,’ Kotick wrote.

‘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.’

Afrasiabi's behavior was allegedly known to the company's executives - including Blizzard Entertainment President J. Allen Brack, above, who stepped down in August

Afrasiabi’s behavior was allegedly known to the company’s executives – including Blizzard Entertainment President J. Allen Brack, above, who stepped down in August

The company also promised to raise the percentage of ‘women and non-binary people’ by 50 percent within five years and to invest $250 million over the next 10 years in diversity programs, including partnerships with colleges ‘serving under-represented communities.’

Most notably, the company has agreed to end forced arbitration – a practice criticized by anti-sexual harassment activists for giving employers complete control over investigations into assault.

‘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.’

Kotick bought a stake in Activision in 1990, before its merger with Vivendi in 2008 gave it is new name. He became CEO in 1991. 



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