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Ubisoft promises sweeping changes after several execs were accused of sexual misconduct

Ubisoft promises sweeping changes after several execs were accused of sexual misconduct

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The company is appointing a head of workplace culture and creating a position for a head of diversity

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Ubisoft is making a number of internal changes in response to allegations of misconduct against multiple employees, including two executives accused of groping and otherwise sexually assaulting female employees, that surfaced last week. The company has already placed those employees on leave and opened investigations into the abuse — now, Ubisoft is promising to undergo a “structural shift” to make a safer work environment and improve accountability.

Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot outlined the changes an email sent to employees on Thursday, which Ubisoft also shared on its blog. “The situations that some of you have experienced or witnessed are absolutely not acceptable,” said Guillemot. “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.”

Ubisoft’s CEO appointed a head of workplace culture

As part of the changes, Guillemot is appointing a head of workplace culture who is “empowered to examine all aspects of our company’s culture and to suggest comprehensive changes that will benefit all of us,” he said. He has placed Lidwine Sauer, Ubisoft’s director of insights and trends for the company’s Strategic Innovation Lab, in the position. She will be creating a taskforce around the effort and will report to Guillemot. Guillemot also announced that Ubisoft will be creating a new role for a head of diversity and inclusion that will report to him.

Ubisoft also will begin hosting listening sessions for employees starting on Monday. “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,” said Guillemot. They will be moderated by external facilitators, he said. The company is also planning to launch a global employee survey.

“We are not looking for a quick fix, but rather a structural shift at Ubisoft”

Guillemot reiterated that independent third parties are leading a series of investigations in response to allegations surfaced against Ubisoft employees, though he didn’t address any of the specific allegations, nor did he say who or how many people are now under investigation. We do know that allegations were also brought against the man heading up Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Ubisoft’s flagship next-gen title, who has since taken a leave of absence.

Ubisoft has also set up an “online confidential alert platform,” according to Guillemot, which is administered by whistleblowing platform Whispli. The company is also “in the process of selecting an external consulting firm to audit and improve our procedures and policies,” said Guillemot, and he committed to sharing the results of the audit and the changes the company will make when it is completed.

Guillemot’s blog comes hours after the high-profile reveal of Ubisoft’s newest game, the free-to-play battle royale shooter Hyper Scape, which skyrocketed to the top of the Twitch viewership charts shortly after its technical test went live earlier today. It also follows not only misconduct allegations at Ubisoft, but a larger reckoning of powerful figures in the video game industry who are being accused of abuse.

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