French video game giant Ubisoft detailed today how it will address toxic behavior and sexual misconduct in the workplace following multiple reports of incidences at the company.
In a blog post, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot announced the changes the company’s taking so that it will be better at discovering and dealing with complaints.
The new letter shows game companies appear to be taking serious steps to respond to a wave of sexual harassment complaints that were made public in the past week on social media. While more than 350 complaints have been logged on social media chronicling the incidents of harassment and abuse in the game industry, Ubisoft stood out among big game companies in terms of the volume of complaints.
Separately, on Thursday, Capcom pulled out of Evo Online (a fighting game event) after tournament organizer Joey Cuellar was placed on administrative leave following misconduct allegations.
On June 24 Ashraf Ismail, the creative director of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, stepped down from his role in Ubisoft’s next major game following allegations. Bloomberg also reported that Ubisoft placed Tommy François and Maxime Béland, two high-ranking game executives, on administrative leave pending investigations into their behavior. Other employees have been named in individual harassment complaints as well. Ubisoft declined to comment on ongoing investigations.
Guillemot said Ubisoft will change the way it handles human resources, revise its editorial department, and make all managers accountable for toxic behavior issues such as sexual misconduct.
Guillemot said he was appointing Lidwine Sauer as head of workplace culture. He said she will be empowered to examine all aspects of the company’s culture and to suggest comprehensive changes that will benefit all. Lidwine will report directly to Guillemot and will create an international and diverse multidisciplinary working group within Ubisoft to support these efforts, he said.
Starting Monday, Ubisoft will also have listening sessions, and external third parties will moderate them. In these, the company will listen to the concerns of employees. The company will do a global employee survey with confidential answers. And it has set up an online confidential alert platform enabling employees as well as external individuals to report harassment, discrimination, and other inappropriate behaviors, including those that infringe on the company’s code of fair conduct.
To ensure anonymity and confidentiality, this platform’s administrator is a third party, Whispli (a whistleblower platform), and committee of CSR and legal experts will review compliants, Guillemot said.
Here’s the full text of the Ubisoft letter:
The following is an internal letter from Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot shared with teams earlier today:
The situations that some of you have experienced or witnessed are absolutely not acceptable. No one should ever feel harassed or disrespected at work, and the types of inappropriate behavior we have recently learned about cannot and will not be tolerated. To those of you who have spoken up or have supported colleagues, I want to be clear: you are heard, and you are helping drive necessary change within the company.
We have significant work to do to improve the ways in which we operate and collaborate, and I am personally committed to ensuring we make these fundamental changes. They need to be profound, and we need to implement them quickly at all levels of the organization.
Specifically, I have decided to revise the composition of the Editorial Department, transform our human resource processes, and improve the accountability of all managers on these subjects.
We are not looking for a quick fix, but rather a structural shift at Ubisoft that fully aligns with our values – values that do not tolerate toxic behaviors and where everyone feels safe to speak out. We must do everything we can to ensure no one is in these situations ever again. With this in mind, I also am putting in place a series of initiatives that will serve as a roadmap as we listen, learn, and act. I will need everyone to work together to build and implement them so that respect for others remains one of the pillars of Ubisoft’s culture.
Appointment of a Head of Workplace Culture
I have appointed Lidwine Sauer to oversee all our efforts in this area. Lidwine is familiar to some of you from her role as a Projects Director in the Strategic Innovation Lab, and I am very pleased that she has agreed to take on this responsibility. As I already told Lidwine, she is empowered to examine all aspects of our company’s culture and to suggest comprehensive changes that will benefit all of us. Lidwine will report directly to me in this new capacity and will create an international and diverse multidisciplinary working group within Ubisoft to support these efforts. She will share more details with you about this taskforce next week.
Employee Listening Sessions in All Locations
Starting Monday, we will begin hosting a series of employee listening sessions, which some of you already have organized informally. These are not Q&A sessions or town hall meetings; the goal of these sessions is to actively and considerately listen to your experiences and concerns, as well as your suggestions for improvement. They will be held on Teams and will be moderated by different external facilitators. Your managing directors will notify you of the dates for these sessions and how to attend.
Launch of a Global Employee Survey
To complement these sessions, we will be launching a global employee survey on this subject within the next two weeks. We are in the process of finalizing it now. Our aim is to encourage candid feedback, and I ask that everyone please participate. It will be entirely anonymous and will provide us with extremely valuable insights to spur change within the company.
Ongoing Investigations into Allegations
In response to recent allegations, we launched a series of investigations that are being led by independent third parties. I know that many of you are eager to hear the results of these investigations. However, we must take the time necessary to ensure that they are carried out with the required rigor. When they are concluded, all appropriate actions will be taken. Should additional allegations or claims be brought to our attention, we will fully investigate those, as well.
In addition, Ubisoft has set up an online confidential alert platform enabling employees as well as external individuals to report harassment, discrimination and other inappropriate behaviors, including those that infringe on our Code of Fair Conduct. To ensure anonymity and confidentiality, this platform is administered by a third party, Whispli, and complaints are reviewed by a committee of CSR and legal experts.
Comprehensive Review of Policies & Procedures
We are in the process of selecting an external consulting firm to audit and improve our procedures and policies. They also will rely on the feedback from the group questionnaire and listening sessions to feed their thinking. My goal is to ensure Ubisoft’s policies and procedures are best in class. We will share the audit’s results and the subsequent changes that are rolled out as they happen.
Diversity & Inclusion
In parallel, we are creating the new position of Head of Diversity and Inclusion, who will report directly to me. I am committed to improving diversity across the organization, including in all of our management teams.
These concrete actions are just the beginning of profound changes at all levels. I am convinced that, all together, we will build a better Ubisoft for the benefit of all.
Again, I want to express my appreciation to those of you who have had the courage to speak up. Know that my door is always open to you if you wish to express your concerns directly to me. We have a lot to accomplish, and I am determined to make this change happen.
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