Facing a lawsuit for gender discrimination brought by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Activision Blizzard replaced its president J. Allen Brack with two co-leaders, Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra. Blizzard’s announcement of Oneal and Ybarra’s new roles presented them as equals, but that apparently did not extend to their paychecks.
A mere three months after accepting her new position, Jen Oneal departed Blizzard, and this past week, further reporting has painted a picture as to why. According to a Wall Street Journal report published on Tuesday, Oneal sent an email to the company’s legal team a month after accepting her new role as co-leader; in that message, she expressed a lack of faith in leadership, saying “it was clear that the company would never prioritize our people the right way.” The Wall Street Journal’s report also noted that Ybarra was paid more than Oneal, despite both serving as co-leaders.
Further reporting from IGN on Wednesday sheds more light on the pay disparity between the two co-leaders. The article quotes from the Activision Blizzard Slack channel for employees, where Ybarra apparently described the situation to his colleagues as follows:
“Jen and I shared with management that we wanted to be paid the same to co-lead Blizzard together. [...] 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.”
In other words, when Ybarra and Oneal got promoted into their co-leader positions, they did not receive a raise right away; their pay remained the same at first. Since Ybarra was already paid more than Oneal, he continued to receive more money after accepting the promotion.
IGN’s report also quotes Slack logs in which Oneal apparently asserted that she did not want to engage “in a debate” with her colleagues about the situation. She further clarified that she was eventually offered pay equity with Ybarra — but this payment contract was only extended to her after she had informed the company that she was quitting. In her words: “While the company informed me before I tendered my resignation that they were working on a new proposal, we were made equivalent offers only after I tendered that resignation.”
Oneal will remain at Activision Blizzard until the end of the year, and according to IGN, she informed her colleagues that she intends to operate “in good faith” as a co-leader with Ybarra until the conclusion of her time at the company.