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Activision Blizzard ends forced arbitration for harassment, discrimination claims

Also, CEO Bobby Kotick is taking a pay cut.

Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Activision Blizzard is making more changes to improve its workplace culture following lawsuits over alleged incidents of harassment, discrimination and retaliation at the company. In a letter to employees on Thursday, CEO Bobby Kotick outlined new changes the game publisher is making, including a new "zero-tolerance" harassment policy and ending required arbitration of sexual harassment and discrimination claims. 

Kotick also said he's asked the company's board to reduce his pay to $62,500 to ensure that "every available resource is being used in the service of becoming the industry leader in workplace excellence." Earlier this year, shareholders reportedly approved a $155 million pay package for Kotick. 

"Being welcoming and inclusive, in the context of our workplace, is crystal clear," wrote Kotick in the letter. "We will still passionately debate ideas, employ healthy skepticism when appropriate, and demand excellence and rigor in all of our pursuits – but we will always treat each other with dignity and respect."

Activision Blizzard has been under scrutiny since this summer when California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the company for its "frat boy" workplace culture, including several incidents of alleged discrimination and harassment. In September, the US Equal Employment Opportunity accused the company of violating the civil rights of employees, subjecting them to sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and retaliation. Activision Blizzard quickly settled with the EEOC for $18 million

Amid the turmoil, Blizzard CEO J. Allen Brack stepped down from the company, and earlier this month, Activision Blizzard said more than 20 employees were fired following investigations into reports of harassment, discrimination or retaliation in the company. 

On Thursday, Kotick said the company will also invest $250 million to "accelerate opportunities for diverse talent" and aims to increase its percentage of women and nonbinary employees by 50% within the next five years. The company will also provide more transparency around pay equity and give regular progress updates on its workplace initiatives.