Ubisoft is accused of not doing enough to get rid of toxic management and respond to abuse allegations.
2020 was an especially brutal year for Ubisoft‘s image as a welcoming, culturally diverse publisher. A series of allegations of sexual misconduct, which began with Assassin’s Creed Valhalla director Ashraf Ismail, grew into a sort of me too movement that accused several executives and managers of systematic discrimination, abuse and years of sexual misconduct.
It took a while, but Ubisoft eventually responded by suspending vice presidents Tommy Francois and Maxime Beland – two of the executives accused, hired an external firm to independently investigate the allegations, and created an online portal for employees to anonymously report harassment.
According to a representative from Ubisoft’s social and economic committee, the HR staff responsible for covering up Ubisoft’s toxic culture remain in their positions. While global HR head Cecile Cornet has only just left the company, the representative said they don’t expect the executive replacing her – chief people officer Anika Grant – to make a difference.
Another from the Solidaires Informatique Jeu Video union said Ubisoft is still protecting certain leaders who were also included in the waves of accusations, such as Ubisoft Nadeo head Florent Castelnerac, and Hugues Ricour, Ubisoft Singapore’s former director. Ricour did step down in November, but he remains at Ubisoft.
The report said that Ubisoft management has shot down staff ideas about preventing this from happening in the future, and that things have returned to business as usual at Ubisoft’s Canadian studios.
“We perceive a desire [from management] to leave the crisis from summer 2020 behind as it represents a risk for the group’s durability. But training must be renewed regularly and offered to new staff. For now, this request has not been addressed,” one source told Le Telegramme.
When contacted about the report, a Ubisoft representative told VG247 that the company has “implemented major changes across its organization, internal processes and procedures” in order to create a “safe, inclusive and respectful working environment for all team members.” The spokesperson also listed all the changes Ubisoft has made since the start of the crisis, which include the previously mentioned reporting tools, investigating the allegations and taking action against the perpetrators, employee training, and revamping the company’s code of conduct.
Ubisoft also pointed to the appointment of Lidwine Sauer as its head of workplace culture, who is overseeing the implementation of these changes. Speaking on HR, Ubisoft said it has “revamped our HR processes”, and reiterated the hiring of Anika Grant as HR head, and Raashi Sikka as VP of global diversity and inclusion.
“These concrete actions demonstrate the profound changes that have taken place at every level of the company,” said Ubisoft.
“Additional initiatives are underway and are being rolled out over the coming months. We are committed to strengthening our culture and values in the long term, to help ensure every team member at Ubisoft is heard, respected and valued in the workplace.”
It is unlikely that Ubisoft will talk about any of this at its consumer-facing shows. At the height of the crisis last year, the publisher decided not to address the situation at its Ubisoft Forward summer event.