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Ubisoft CEO sanctions formation of 'multidisciplinary working group' to tackle abuse

Ubisoft CEO sanctions formation of 'multidisciplinary working group' to tackle abuse

June 30, 2020 | By Chris Kerr




Ubisoft has detailed some of the actions it will take to address the rampant abuse allegations that have rocked the company. 

Despite multiple emails sent by Gamasutra asking Ubisoft to address a number of specific claims, including the assault allegation leveled at the now-suspended editorial vice president Maxime Beland and reports of homophobia and racism at Ubisoft Sofia, the company's public-facing response was tepid at best. 

In a two general statements shared last week, the Assassin's Creed publisher said it was "deeply concerned" by the allegations and pledged to launch investigations with the support of "specialized external consultants." Internally, however, those at the very top of the company have outlined a more in-depth plan of action.

Emails obtained by Gamasutra, sent to the Ubisoft team by CEO and co-founder Yves Guillemot and chief talent and communications officer Cecile Cornet, reveal plans are in place to establish a "multidisciplinary working group" that will be tasked with finding "better solutions and tools to detect, report and resolve any incident or serious problem without delay and in an impartial manner."

That working group will be aided by external partner, and will begin its efforts by organizing focus group meetings with employees. 

Guillemot also offered to personally speak with anybody affected by the gamut of issues facing the company, and said he would be calling Ubisoft's managing directors on June 29 to "ask them for their full involvement and exemplarity on these important issues."

"I have gathered all of my direct reports to address this subject and your feedback. I would like us to thoroughly review all of our systems so that these types of situations cannot happen again," wrote Guillemot in the email.

"I am profoundly affected by what I have been reading the past few days on Mana. I would like to express my deep solidarity to all those who have been directly hurt and assure you that I will personally follow each of the situations that have been reported. 

"These actions are in total contradiction with our values and with what I want for Ubisoft. The company we hold dear must offer a welcoming and respectful environment, allowing everyone to flourish. I will not accept anything less."

Cornet, meanwhile, explained Ubisoft will also be launching an audit into its current processes and practices, along with several investigations that will be conducted by external partners including Rubin Thomlinson LLP and Reddock Law Group.

"These investigations can typically take two weeks to two months depending on the case. While an investigation is ongoing, we are not able to communicate on the details because we need to protect the confidentiality of all parties involved and avoid influencing the investigator’s work," wrote Cornet. 

"Some of these investigations end in sanctions (warnings with required training, suspensions, dismissal), while others prove groundless. I hear the need for greater transparency, and one of the ways we will do that is by better tracking and sharing indicators on where we stand.

"As mentioned earlier this week, an audit into our current processes and practices in each studio and office is needed to understand where we must improve, reinforce and, if need be, integrate third-party expertise. These have already been launched with external partners in certain locations."

Cornet added that every Ubisoft employee "needs to be able to step forward and speak up." To that end, the company has pledged to implement an "anonymous online reporting tool" by the end of July. All managers and HR managers will also undergo "mandatory training," and new roles focused on "diversity and inclusion" will be created to help follow up on reports of harassment and discrimination.

"We want to multiply the channels and will be implementing an anonymous online reporting tool by end of July," reads her email. "It will be managed by the Corporate Social Responsibility team in HQ. In the meantime, we have set up [a] mailing list and I want to thank those of you who have already reached out and with whom we are in contact. 

"It is up to each of us to shape the working environment we want, and this is even more true of managers who must lead by example. Diversity and inclusion trainings have started in multiple locations but we need to go further and provide specific training on harassment, sexism and all forms of discrimination in the workplace. All managers and HR managers in the company will undergo mandatory training.  

"This change has been set in motion and we will come out of this for the better."



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