Following a series of allegations of sexual harrassment and abuse against multiple Ubisoft employees at several studios, the company have laid out more of their plan to change.
“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,” Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said. “They need to be profound, and we need to implement them quickly at all levels of the organisation.”
Guillemot made the statements in an internal letter to staff on Thursday, which the company then shared publicly. Ubisoft admitted last week that they “must do better” in the wake of the accusations from colleagues and the public alike, which were made against employees from the rank and file up to high-ranking and influential positions.
“The situations that some of you have experienced or witnessed are absolutely not acceptable,” Guillemot said in yesterday’s letter. “No one should ever feel harassed or disrespected at work, and the types of inappropriate behaviour 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.”
He announced that Lidwine Sauer of Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovation Lab has been appointed the first head of workplace culture, and she will create “an international and diverse multidisciplinary working group within Ubisoft to support these efforts.” They’re also planning to send out a company-wide survey they say will be anonymous, to establish a way to confidentially report inappropriate behaviour through a third-party whistle-blowing service, to hold “employee listening sessions”, and to call in an external consulting firm to audit their policies.
“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 behaviours 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.”
I dislike companies talking about their “values” as if your actual values are not in how you treat people. In light of recent allegations, Ubisoft’s values seem to have tolerated toxic behaviours and made people feel unsafe to speak out, and it appears that respect for others was not a pillar of their culture. I’m reminded of Riot Games a few years back saying their company values had “served [them] well for many years” but needed to change, when evidently their values had served many people poorly.
Guillemot did not give any update on investigations into employees, which Ubisoft say are being carried out by independent third parties. He said they “must take the time necessary to ensure that they are carried out with the required rigour.” Reports claim two executives are among the employees suspended pending investigation.
The past few weeks have seen hundreds of accusations of sexual harrassment and abuse against developers, streamers, media, and more figures in video games. It’s not just Ubisoft. The Evo fighting games tournament, due to happen this weekend, has been called off following allegations against its now-former CEO.
Electronic Arts similarly insisted in a public statement this week, “We take every allegation seriously and we investigate it. We are deeply committed to ensuring there is safe space for people to come forward and taking the right actions on behalf of our community.”