Activision Denied Requests for Equal Pay from Mike Ybarra and Jen Oneal
2021/11/17 at 2:35 PM
scathing report by the Wall Street Journal
, which revealed that former Blizzard co-leader Jen Oneal was paid less than her male counterpart, current leader Mike Ybarra responded in a series of messages to Blizzard employees. As
shared by IGN
, Ybarra explained that he and Oneal initially went into the role of co-lead using their existing pay scales, but that multiple requests for Activision to pay them equally were rejected.
Mike Ybarra, via IGN
"Hello Blizzard, please see the email I sent this morning. I know many leaders plan to meet with their teams throughout the day. This is a difficult time for all of us, myself included. I have been asked and want to make it clear: Jen and I shared with management that we wanted to be paid the same to co-lead Blizzard together."
"As a leader, equality in its broadest sense is something I 100% stand behind. As a team, I share our desire for change and growth. I'm committed to fostering that with all of you to make Blizzard what we all want it to be. I will be sending out a video shortly to all of Blizzard. Thank you and know that I am processing today's news — and struggling in areas like many of you."
He further clarified why they were paid different amounts in the first place - that they went into the role with their existing payscales, which makes some amount of sense considering how quickly Activision moved to
replace former President J. Allen Brack
Mike Ybarra, via IGN
"Jen and I were both on existing contracts. I ran Battle.net & Online Products and she ran Vicarious Visions so our pay was different. The first time both Jen and I were offered a new contract, it was the same across both of us for the new co-leader of Blizzard roles, so our compensation was going to be the same."
However, that new contract wasn't offered until
Oneal resigned, seemingly in an attempt to avoid the exact situation of public disaster in which Activision has found itself in yet again. For her part, Oneal is portrayed as having reached the end of her patience with Activision, and the only upside here is that both accounts portray Ybarra as genuine in seeking equal compensation between them.
Jen Oneal, via IGN
“When Mike and I were placed in the same co-lead role, we went into the role with our previous compensation, which was not equivalent. It remained that way for some time well after we made multiple rejected requests to change it to parity."
“While the company informed me before I tendered my resignation that they were working on a new proposal, we were made equivalent offers only
I tendered that resignation.”
This sequence of events would be hilarious if it weren't so serious - for a company to respond to allegations of gender pay disparity by simultaneously elevating a high profile man and woman, only to pay the woman less is more than simply
, but flies in the face of Activision COO Daniel Alegre' earlier
assertion that men and women were paid equitably
More importantly, this could have greater long-standing implications than staining Blizzard's increasingly tarnished reputation. Pay disparity between men and women was the key focus of the
California DFEH investigation
into Activision Blizzard, but that point was left out of the
, heavily implying that their similar investigation didn't find enough evidence to make it part of the settlement.
have been able to argue that the two held the same title with separate responsibilities or that Ybarra's greater executive experience justified greater pay, the public statements of these two high profile executives make it clear that both filled the same role and argued for equal pay, but were repeatedly denied... which is not only an exceptionally bad look for Activision, but may serve as the lynchpin for the DFEH to renew their investigation.
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