Thursday, August 13, 2020

Harassment: Ubisoft Responds, Our Witnesses Respond

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“We are not targeting margin adjustments. What we want to implement is a structural change within Ubisoft, fully in line with our values ​​which do not tolerate toxic behavior and ensure that everyone feels safe to express themselves. ” Twenty-four hours after the publication of the survey Release in which many witnesses recounted how highly placed creatives would have multiplied sexist remarks, harassment and sexual assaults with impunity, protected by a culture of silence and the wall of human resources, the CEO of Ubisoft, Yves Guillemot, began to detail Thursday evening an action plan that he ensures personally supervise.

In a letter to the 15,000 employees, the second in less than a week, that he begins and concludes by thanking the anonymous who spoke, the CEO says: “I decided to review the composition of our editorial department, transform our HR processes, and make all of our managers more responsible on these subjects.” By referring to human resources and the “editorial”, a service which is the pride of Ubisoft, Guillemot designates by name two instances described by our witnesses as black boxes from which many reports start and get lost, and thus points to one of the keys to the problem that seems to undermine the business. It remains to be seen what Guillemot means by “Review the composition”. Although he recalls that a series of investigations by independent external consultants is underway for each case that has been the subject of allegations, Yves Guillemot encourages patience and refuses to confirm or deny the layoffs editorial vice-presidents charged with harassment and sexual assault charges.

The first concrete point of the road map set by Yves Guillemot is the immediate creation of a “Head of Workplace Culture” position (entrusted to VF), entrusted to Lidwine Sauer, until then to the company’s internal research laboratory. Under the direct supervision of the CEO, Sauer will be responsible for coordinating a working group that she will constitute. A position of “Diversity and Inclusion” manager is also emerging. Guillemot announces the setting up of discussion groups – which already exist in the company informally – whose conduct will be entrusted to “External facilitators” to collect the voice and suggestions of employees. Before sending to all employees an anonymous questionnaire which will serve as a working basis for a consulting company to improve internal procedures and functioning. Finally, the use of the Whisply online confidential alert platform will be extended to cases of harassment and discrimination, and complaints will be examined by lawyers and a committee of CSR (corporate social responsibility) specialists.

The front page of Thursday’s Libé.

We asked several of the anonymous witnesses interviewed for our articles to respond to these first steps. We kept the aliases when they were renamed in the survey published on Thursday.


Cassandra, former member of the editorial department

“Personally, I am skeptical. Yes, we are awaiting a response and concrete measures, but I have the feeling of seeing a catalog straight out of a crisis communication plan which aims to calm the spirits and restore the image of the company. Transforming a culture and a system in depth must be the subject of in-depth reflection, it takes a long time. What about the calendar? What we expect above all are first of all strong and concrete measures. For example: let us be confirmed that Tommy François has been laid off. Yes, he is obviously presumed innocent according to French justice, but so much convergence of testimony must lead to courageous decisions which aim to separate him from the rest of the employees, like the other toxic personalities who have been identified. ”

Juliette, stationed at Ubisoft

“To be very honest, I have no opinion on this email. I am waiting to see.”

A former employee

“There seems to be a change in tone with the use of words like “unacceptable” or “harassed”, and the announcement of measures such as the recast – or even the dissolution? – the “editorial” department which seemed essential. Regarding the establishment of a “confidential online alert platform for reporting harassment, discrimination and other inappropriate behavior” anonymously, this is great news. I just regret that this announcement comes two years too late. This tool, Whisply, has been available at Ubisoft since 2018 to report corruption facts. At the time, we had already recommended integrating the themes of sexual harassment and discrimination, we had argued in this sense, but the world HRD had explicitly refused, fearing a big unpacking. She should not have been disappointed. In two years, a lot of harm could no doubt have been avoided, victims supported and the culprits dismissed.

The tool will not do everything, far from it. Who will handle the referrals? Will these people be trained in the issue of sexual violence with specialized and non-compliant firms? How will the victims be heard and believed? How will stalkers and attackers be punished? All these central questions have not yet been answered. Beyond that, what will happen to the people who protected the attackers, stifled the business? This wave of testimony has changed the game, and Ubisoft management can no longer afford complacency. The employees are watching you. ”

Louise, former employee of the editorial service

“I don’t hide from you that for a brief second, I wanted to believe it. Then, I thought back to this year and a half at Ubisoft where there was not a day that was “normal”, not a day without bullying or humiliation. I want to believe it but I’m sorry, I can’t believe that Yves was not aware of these acts – or that he chose to look elsewhere while I, other women and quite simply each member of his team was sacrificed on the altar of creativity. Creativity in the name of which I, like others, had to accept the jokes on my body, on my gender, on my ethnicity, on everything that constitutes who I am. Maybe I am pessimistic? But I still believe that Ubisoft and these employees deserve and deserve better. I hope for them that I am wrong. “

A former employee of the editorial service

“The first step towards reconciliation is to admit one’s wrongs. Yves Guillemot talks about “inappropriate behavior of which we have become aware in recent days”. However, it seems rather improbable that in fifteen years nothing has ever come back to his ears as for the inappropriate behavior of some of their famous “talents”. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, because I think that Yves Guillemot mostly sinned by overconfidence towards some of his subordinates, and perhaps did not measure the extent of the abuses committed. But even if it is, now it’s up to him to take responsibility, as the face of the business. If Yves is sincere in his desire to reform society, he must begin by recognizing the role that he and other high-ranking executives have played, if only by their laissez-faire and their inaction. Otherwise, it will only perpetuate the cycle of abuse, this time by practicing a form of smoking, always with the aim of protecting those responsible and those who covered them. ”

An employee at Ubisoft Montreal

“I think Yves sincerely wants the best for his employees. I trust him to clean up now that the opaque walls of HR and the editorial have come down. Now he knows. There is a lot to do, many toxic people are also protected in Toronto and Montreal. You have to have the courage to get rid of it so that the rest of the teams can create games in the best conditions. Wait and see. “

Erwan Cario


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Marius Chapuis

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