Bobby Kotick Bobby Kotick

Bobby Kotick, the longtime CEO of embattled game giant Activision Blizzard, has apologized to staff over the company’s handling of claims of sexual harassment and discrimination. “People were deeply let down and, for that, I am truly sorry,” he wrote in a public letter.

Kotick used the letter to outline changes at the company in the wake of the scandal, including a new zero-tolerance harassment policy and a pledge to increase the percentage of women and non-binary staff by 50% over five years. The company will spend $250 million over the coming decade to create employment opportunities for diverse talent. Progress on these and other initiatives will be reported quarterly.

The company will also end mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment and discrimination claims, which was stopping employees from taking conflicts directly to court. Removing this policy was a key demand from staff who protested in recent months.

Kotick wrote:

Over the last decade, as we’ve brought in new companies, grown our workforce, and expanded our business, we 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. 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.

Activision Blizzard is being sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which describes its workplace, particularly at subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment, as a “breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women.” The company is fighting the suit. Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating its handling of these issues.

Activision Blizzard was also sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which alleged “sex-based discrimination, including harassment” in its workplace; it settled, promising to create an $18 million fund to compensate claimants. DFEH has criticized the terms of the settlement, which has yet to be approved by the courts. It argues that $18 million is too little.

Kotick has been CEO of Activision Blizzard since its creation in 2008, and held the same role at its predecessor Activision from 1991. Last year, he earned $154 million, which made him the second-highest-paid CEO in the U.S. according to The Wall Street Journal. He has agreed for his compensation this year to be lowered to $62,500, California’s legal lower limit for “white-collar” salaried employees at large companies.

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