Ubisoft reportedly made minimal internal changes following abuse allegations

It has almost been a year since allegations of abuse at Ubisoft came to light

Ubisoft has reportedly failed to make significant changes to its internal culture and management, following last year’s allegations of abuse and sexual harassment.

According to a report published by Le Télégramme and reported by GamesIndustry.biz, Ubisoft’s management has fallen short on implementing meaningful change.

Allegations of sexual harassment, abuse and bullying appeared online last June, leading Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot to promise a structural shift to battle workplace toxicity.

The allegations came to light through a wider discussion in the video games industry about sexual harassment in development and gaming spaces.

Shortly after the allegations went public, Ubisoft confirmed several high-profile suspensions and firings. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s creative director Ashraf Ismail was fired, due to allegations claiming he lied about his marital status in order to pursue a romantic relationship with a fan.

Ashraf Ismail. Credit: Aroged

Maxime Béland, who was VP of editorial and a former creative director, resigned from his position following allegations of sexism and harassment towards female employees.

Ubisoft also removed Hugues Ricour from his position of director at Ubisoft Singapore late last year. Ricour was leading the team behind the upcoming naval action-adventure Skull and Bones, but allegations of bullying and demeaning comments led to his removal.

However, the publisher reportedly still actively employs several individuals involved in allegations of misconduct.

Several employees at the Ubisoft-owned studio Nadeo accused managing director Florent Castelnérac of harassment last year. According to TheSixthAxis, French union Solidaires called for his dismissal in September 2020. However, Castelnérac remains in his position.

Skull & Bones Ubisoft
Skull & Bones. Credit: Ubisoft

Castelnérac refuted the allegations on TwitLonger, stating: “These are discussions that we have not been able to have, and quotes that are public therefore have a public explanation. I made mistakes, but I think the general spirit is quite different from the article presented.”

In the months following the allegations, Ubisoft provided half-day training to over 20,000 members of staff. Managers reportedly received additional training sessions focused on accountability.

The publisher also announced several new hirings since the allegations went public. Anika Grant joined Ubisoft last month as the Director of HR and Raashi Sikka was appointed VP of global diversity and inclusion last December.

However, a representative from Ubisoft’s social and economic committee spoke to Le Télégramme and stated they “didn’t expect anything to come out of these appointments”. According to the representative, the HR staff responsible for covering the allegations are still working for Ubisoft.

According to Le Télégramme, employees also submitted several initiatives in an effort to improve culture and management. One initiative included positive action, ensuring short-lists retained women or that they were systematically interviewed. However, the proposal put forward by a member of the social and economic committee recieved no feedback from management.

Watchdogs: Legion
Watchdogs: Legion. Credit: Ubisoft Toronto

An Ubisoft representative responded to GameIndustry.biz’s request for comment, stating: “Over a period of several months, Ubisoft has implemented major changes across its organization, internal processes and procedures in order to guarantee a safe, inclusive and respectful working environment for all team members.”

In the response, the representative detailed Ubisoft’s actions since the allegations came to light. The publisher carried out numerous external investigations, implemented anonymous reporting tools, and introduced mandatory training on workplace conduct.

The publisher also revised its code of conduct, which it will publish this summer. According to a representative of STJV, the code of conduct didn’t previously list harassment as a “non-negotiable interdiction.”

The representative added: “Additional initiatives are underway and are being rolled out over the coming months. We are committed to strengthening our culture and values in the long term, to help ensure every team member at Ubisoft is heard, respected and valued in the workplace.”

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