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Ubisoft reveals steps to address sexual misconduct allegations, promote diversity

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Jul 3, 2020

In the wake of workplace-related sexual misconduct allegations that saw Ubisoft remove the creative director of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Valhalla last month, the company has announced new steps to make “fundamental changes” that address issues of diversity and on-the-job harassment, according to CEO Yves Guillemot.

Ubisoft posted to its website this week a letter that Guillemot sent to all employees, pledging a commitment not to “a quick fix,” as he wrote, “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.”

The gaming giant has created a new Head of Diversity and Inclusion position, to be filled by an executive who will report directly to the CEO, and has appointed Lidwine Sauer from the company’s Strategic Innovation Lab as Head of Workplace Culture. Sauer will be “empowered to examine all aspects of our company’s culture and to suggest comprehensive changes that will benefit all of us,” Guillemot wrote.

In an effort to open communication channels with employees throughout the company, Ubisoft also is creating a confidential alert platform, administered by an outside party, to enable “employees as well as external individuals to report harassment, discrimination and other inappropriate behaviors, including those that infringe on our Code of Fair Conduct,” Guillemot wrote. A third party also will be brought in to conduct an audit of the company’s current policies.

In addition, Guillemot pledged that the company will undertake a global employee survey within the next two weeks, and will also begin hosting “employee listening sessions” at all its locations, telling employees the goal is to “actively and considerately listen to your experiences and concerns, as well as your suggestions for improvement.”

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla creative director Ashraf Ismail was placed on a leave of absence in June, following a much-publicized allegation made by Twitch streamer Dani Porter Bridges that he had concealed his marital status during a relationship with her for “a year on and off.” According to Venturebeat, which reported the story last month, others also accused Ismail of concealing his marital status, in order to “keep them in a relationship with him.”

The Wrap reports that additional allegations against other Ubisoft executives have since led the company to place a number of employees on leave, including Tommy Francois and Maxime Beland, “both vice presidents in Ubisoft’s global game development division” whom the company is reportedly investigating in the wake of accusations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct.

Guillemot encouraged all Ubisoft employees to come forward if they have concerns, and commended those who’ve already spoken out for “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,” he wrote. “They need to be profound, and we need to implement them quickly at all levels of the organization.”

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