Ubisoft admits handling of misconduct has caused a lack of trust

"That's something right now we are 100% focused on fixing."

Ubisoft has admitted its handling of misconduct complaints has led to a lack of trust in the company.

Speaking to Axios, Ubisoft chief people officer Anika Grant acknowledged its initial response to the ongoing workplace misconduct scandal since mid-2020 was flawed.

"At the beginning of the crisis, we spent a lot of time making sure that we had the right process in place, that we were able to very quickly and efficiently run an investigation and get to some outcomes," she said.

"What I think we missed, though, is the employee experience through that. I don't think we always communicated enough back to the people who had raised an issue in the first place about what we found as part of the investigations - the decisions that we made and the actions that we took. And so I think, unfortunately, people lost trust in that process."

Grant said she was committed to improving the process for workers who report misconduct. "That's something right now we are 100% focused on fixing," she said.

Allegations of misconduct rocked the company in June 2020, when Ubisoft co-founder and CEO Yves Guillemot promised to take action. A number of high profile exits at the top of the company followed.

Since then, internal listening sessions have been conducted, a global head of diversity and inclusion has been hired, an anonymous reporting system has been added, and a comprehensive mandatory code of conduct has been rolled out.

Grant, who joined Ubisoft in April this year, says that the number and severity of complaints has reduced, a key mark of change.

"Not only has the volume of cases that are being raised up or alerts happening declined enormously, but what we're also seeing is that the severity of the kinds of things that are being reported has decreased," she said.

Ubisoft also surpassed its 2023 goal of a 24% female workforce in August; this year 32% of its hires were women.

However, in light of similar allegations at Activision Blizzard, the workers group ABetterUbisoft launched an open letter this year with four key demands they say are yet to be met.

One of those demands is to "stop promoting and moving known offenders from studio to studio, team to team, with no repercussions."

"We don't do that at all," Grant said, noting that anyone reported for misconduct has been investigated.

Some workers have also complained of a silencing effect following changes at the company.

"Ubisoft doesn't have any policy that prevents team members from sharing their workplace experiences publicly," Grant said.

In summary, Grant recognises "it's a long journey."

"I know we are not yet where we want to be. But I do think that we are seeing incremental improvements every day."

ABetterUbisoft has since responded to Grant's comments.

"Ubisoft's top management has very clearly communicated through its actions that they're adamant on keeping full control over decisions concerning safety policy and reports, and about running the new processes as a black box.

"This black box nature is breeding grounds for abuse. The single points of failure spread across the processes makes them prone to failure and ineffectiveness. We will keep our demands until they are met."

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Ed Nightingale

Ed Nightingale

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Ed is Reporter at Eurogamer, with an interest in streaming, people and communities, and giving a voice to marginalised people.

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