In the wake of legal proceedings related to last summer’s abuse controversy, new reports suggest very little has changed within Ubisoft.
In the lead-up to legal proceedings concerning last summer’s abuse and harassment accusations, a new report claims Ubisoft has put forth minimal effort to improve its work culture. Sexual impropriety allegations against various Ubisoft executives and staff first emerged approximately one year ago.
Female staff members accused several male staffers and executives of assault, harassment, and toxic behavior. Though many of these claims were internally passed along to Ubisoft’s Human Resources department, reports indicate that personnel within HR purposefully disregarded the accusations to protect the alleged offenders. Notably, Ubisoft Toronto’s former Creative VP Maxime Béland faced allegations of sexual harassment and drunken misconduct. One person posited that since Béland’s wife worked for HR during the reported incidents, the claims may have internally gone ignored. The ex-VP and other accused parties resigned from their posts at Ubisoft following the wave of accusations. Few were outright fired by the publisher.
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Despite the firm’s promise to drastically improve work culture across the board, French publication Le Télégramme (via GamesIndustry.biz) reports very little change has taken place. Le Télégramme’s May 5 write-up notes that litigation regarding previous harassment claims is scheduled to begin sometime this month, with game workers union Solidaires Informatique Jeu Vidéo leading the charge. These efforts follow on the heels of minimal progress. For example, HR Director Cécile Cornet, who resigned in July 2020, only departed Ubisoft recently. Chief People Officer Anika Grant, an Uber alum, has since assumed Cornet’s role. Apparently, representatives of the publisher’s Social and Economic Committee are unconvinced such appointments will enact change. Le Télégramme learned this mindset stems from the fact that some of the accused remain in positions of power – Ubisoft Nadeo boss Florent Castelnérac serves as one example; reportedly, Singapore studio director Hugues Ricour remains employed in some capacity as well, despite his resignation last fall.
Worst still, sources familiar with the firm’s Canadian arm told Le Télégramme “nothing has changed” since July 2020 when Christophe Derennes (CEO Yves Guillemot’s cousin) became head of the Montréal-based group. Other harassment claims reported during and after the fallout were supposedly cast aside at the end of last year. While an initiative to hire more women did make the rounds internally, company management has yet to discuss the proposal. According to GamesIndustry.biz, a source spoke candidly on the matter, saying: “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.”
If and when Ubisoft will address the situation publicly remains to be seen. During an Ubisoft Forward stream last year, Yves Guillemot acknowledged management’s shortcomings, but neglected to explicitly address wider concerns. Here’s to hoping a more forthright response to the current happenings is on the cards.
Next: Ubisoft Ousts Multiple Executives In Attempt To Curb Abusive Culture
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