(CNN Business)Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has asked the company’s board to slash his pay to the “lowest amount California law will allow” until the gaming company fixes its issues with gender discrimination and harassment, he said in a letter to employees on Thursday.
If the board approves, Kotick will be paid $62,500, he said — a sharp drop from the $155 million pay package approved by shareholders in June.
“I am asking not to receive any bonuses or be granted any equity during this time,” he added.
The announcement was part of a broader set of changes Kotick — who has been Activision CEO since 1991, including the 2008 merger with Blizzard — said the company is making. The changes include an end to forced arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination claims, a 50% increase in the percentage of women and non-binary people in the company and a “zero tolerance harassment policy.”
Kotick’s letter comes after months of turmoil within Activision Blizzard, which owns hugely popular titles such as “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” and “Candy Crush,” over allegations of sexual harassment and gender pay disparity, among other issues.
A lawsuit filed in July by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleged a “frat boy” work culture where women were subjected to constant discrimination and harassment. (The company told CNN at the time that it had addressed past misconduct and criticized the lawsuit as “inaccurate” and “distorted.”)
The lawsuit and the company’s initial response kicked off a storm of dissent from Activision Blizzard’s workforce that ultimately led to hundreds of employees staging a walkout at the company’s offices in Irvine, California. Kotick subsequently acknowledged that the company’s initial response was “tone deaf.”
The company is also facing a complaint from the National Labor Relations Board filed earlier this month accusing it of unfair labor practices, as well as an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission that the company has said it is cooperating with. Those actions are all still pending, and Activision Blizzard said it “continues to productively engage with regulators.”
A month ago, the company paid $18 million to settle a separate lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that accused it of subjecting female employees to sexual harassment, retaliating against them for complaining about harassment and paying female employees less than male employees. The company also “discriminated against employees due to their pregnancy,” the EEOC alleged.
In a statement accompanying the EEOC settlement announcement, Kotick said he remained “unwavering in my commitment to make Activision Blizzard one of the world’s most inclusive, respected, and respectful workplaces.”
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