The video game corporation has since survived seven waves of a computer console, four recessions, an aggressive takeaway offer from the biggest publishing conglomerate in Europe, and a worldwide pandemic, five brothers founded in 1986 with Ubisoft Entertainment SA. Ubisoft is one of the world’s leading game developers and is also retaining successful ownership of blockbusters such as Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry. They are now faced with another crisis: reports of the company’s systematic sexual harassment. The circumstance has rattled the inner circle of the founders and given rise to serious questions regarding the management of the company for over a decade.
Background to Ubisoft Sexual Misconduct Allegations
In the last few weeks, more than a dozen people reported having been threatened and humiliated by Ubisoft ‘s staff. The outpouring for the game industry is part of a larger # MeToo campaign, and it is the business in Paris that is the most frequent focus. Interviews with over three dozen current or former employees at Ubisoft showed that for many years these allegations and other claims which had not been made public before were gathered in company records. Ubisoft has taken action in some cases, but grievances have been mainly disregarded, mismanaged, or dismissed, according to staff.
According to two people with exposure to records, allegations made to the Human Resources department at Ubisoft vary from indirect manifestations at discrimination to sexual harassment. Several workers mentioned an environment adverse to women in interviews with Bloomberg Businessweek and described the Paris office as a “frat house.” The workers often passed misogynist, or racist remarks in the different offices of the company and top management engaged in and intensified harassment through unwanted contact or other sexual advances, say current and former employees.
During one of the instances before this summer, when Ubisoft was siding with a potential victim, the organization eliminated the manager of the woman and gave a gift card to the woman, she claims.
A Ubisoft representative declined to comment on or schedule interviews. CEO Yves Guillemot vowed substantial reforms and took action that other workers previously saw as impossible. They include Serge Hascoët’s insiders, the main artistic officer and Guillemot’s close associate for decades, and the heads of HR and the agency in Canada, among others. The former administrators did not return multiple comments questions.
Guillemot declared in a statement on 12 July in Paris that Ubisoft had failed in its duty to guarantee a safe and healthy working climate for its workers.
“This is unacceptable, as toxic behaviors are in direct contrast to values on which I have never compromised—and never will. I am committed to implementing profound changes across the company to improve and strengthen our workplace culture.” He said.
Since 1988 Guillemot has been the CEO of the five families, with relatives owning 21% of the company’s shares and the board having five positions. According to the 2016 report on the French AFP newswire, the brothers speak and frequently meet on their yacht. Over the years, Ubisoft ‘s image as a family business has motivated many employees. But others argue that the dynamic has allowed for a climate that has been misbehavioral for many years, in particular by Hascoët and his squad. Cindy Fitzpatrick, who served from 2005 to 2009 in the Departement of Public Relations of Ubisoft, says, “There are golden children. “No matter what they do, they seem untouchable.”
Some staff says they were pleasantly surprised or even stunned by the rapid response of the organization in recent weeks after allegations were made public. While Hascoët alleged that he humiliated female subordinates and associated himself with men accused of predatory conduct, he was long viewed as a permanent feature of the business. Even other employees wondered that a business run by the same people in a hostile atmosphere would make the kind of structural improvements required to guarantee health for women workers, who in Ubisoft are over 4-1 in size.
In the weeks after these suspected incidents, the company saw the departure through dismissals or resignations of some of those workers identified as offenders. Ubisoft also reports that a range of previously changed complaints have to be dealt with, along with the argument that the company’s system encourages and defends offenders.
Such reforms are outlined in Ubisoft ‘s current quarterly report, which includes an action plan which involves measures to investigate complaints with external partners, reform processes such as HR and the editorial team, and the establishment of new positions for the heads of corporate culture and diversity and inclusion.