In a recent interview with Axios, Ubisoft's chief people officer, Anika Grant, talked up the company's response to its workplace harassment scandal, although some Ubisoft employees remain dissatisfied with the pace of reform. An employee group called ABetterUbisoft (an intentional reference to the ABetterABK group that made demands of Activision Blizzard this summer) says that what they really want and aren't getting is a seat at the table.
#ABetterUbisoft #EndAbuseInGaming pic.twitter.com/KtcPHAWq57November 5, 2021
According to Grant, “people lost trust” in Ubisoft's reporting process when the company failed to communicate the results of its investigations. “That's something right now we are 100% focused on fixing,” she said. This is encouraging language, but is coming on the heels of a largely top-down, opaque process of addressing the controversy.
As recently as September, PC Gamer has reported on ABetterUbisoft's scrutiny of changes in management, with the appointment of a new chief creative officer (a high-level position at the center of Ubisoft's recent controversy) being left to CEO Yves Guillemot and an executive recruitment firm, with little input from the employees who initiated the drive for change.
Grant also says Ubisoft surpassed its 2023 goal of a 24% female workforce in August, noting that 32% of its hires this year were women.
Grant's gesture toward centering employee concerns in future actions, as well as Ubisoft's recent drive to hire more women, are encouraging, but her statements later in the interview undermine her stated goals. One of ABetterUbisoft's primary demands is an end to the practice of shuffling managers accused of harassment or mistreatment between Ubisoft studios. Grant outright denied that this practice was ever implemented by the company, but provided no comment when pushed on examples of the practice. “I'm not going to comment on individual cases,” Grant said.
Individuals who raise their grievances to the level of an official Ubisoft investigation are asked by the company to not comment on their experience publicly. The stated reason is “to protect the integrity of the process and the rights of all those involved,” but it also discourages Ubisoft employees from pursuing what has been the most effective driver for change so far at the company: public outcry and scrutiny. A recent Kotaku report casts serious doubt on the efficacy of Ubisoft's newly-implemented internal processes for dealing with workplace abuse.
ABetterUbisoft has already released a statement expressing dissatisfaction with Grant's assessment of the situation:
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.December 6, 2021