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'Change starts today' says Ubisoft CEO, after years of allegations arise

Ubisoft's Yves Guillemot has announced a series of changes after years-worth of allegations of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse emerged.

Ubisoft's response to a week of allegations of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse at the company continues to roll out. Today, CEO Yves Guillemot sent an e-mail to Ubisoft employees establishing a series of next steps for the company with the subject line "Change starts today."

The e-mail, which Ubisoft posted on its website, details a number of actions the company says it's taking to address prior allegations of abuse, and address future ones. It announces a shake-up of the editorial department (which saw the suspension of two executives last week), the appointment of Lidwine Sauer as head of workplace culture, a series of employee listening locations, a global employee survey, and more. 

A reshuffling of the editorial department is apparently a response to criticism that's been growing inside the company since January. According to Kotaku, the group was reorganized to be entirely comprised of a team of entirely white men, a strange decision for a company that placed the phrase "This game was designed, developed, and produced by a multicultural team of various religious faiths and beliefs" in front of its games. 

The announcement also details the creation of a new position: Head of Diversity and Inclusion, that will report directly to Guillemot. No person has been named to this position as of yet. Ubisoft made no comment as to why it's taken a series of abuse allegations to create such a department.

Guillemot's e-mail reads as sincere, but it has an uncomfortable echo of some stories we've heard in our reporting about conditions at Ubisoft. Notably, several employees told Gamasutra that the company has a history of papering over reports filed to HR about alleged abuse, and there's a worry that reactions to these allegations will be short-lived and mostly for show. 

"Very few trust our processes or the people in charge of solving the issues," sources told Gamasutra's Chris Kerr. "I guess we will see after the weekend, a lot of us are still reeling. Both Tommy and Maxime were open secrets, and there are so many yet to be outed," they explained, referring to the recently suspended editorial vice presidents Maxime Beland and Tommy Francois.

Another frustration developers may find with Guillemot's e-mail: it is strange to see a relatively pat and familiar set of responses to crises over diversity in hiring in response to the allegations the company faces. Can a head of workplace culture address employees who take their predatory behaviors outside the company? Why is change starting in July of 2020 when developers were reporting these incidents over the last decade and beyond?

If you have a story of your time at Ubisoft or other game developers you wish to share with Gamasutra, you can do so via e-mail.
 

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