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Ubisoft announces diversity plans, devs say more change needed

Ubisoft's says it has a new five-year plan to become a better place to work. But current and former employees say that management still has yet to make changes where it counts.

Last week, Ubisoft published a blog post detailing its new five-year plan to improve its workplace culture. These improvements, dubbed "Project Rise," come after several reports of harassment and misconduct were leveled at the French publisher in 2020. 

Per Ubisoft's diversity VP Raashi Sikka said Project Rise will "ensure that Ubisoft better reflects the diversity of our players, with a focus on racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity." The aim is to increase the number of employees from different backgrounds, as a disproportionate number white males in leading positions was reported as a major issue for the company. 

Chief people office Anika Grant added there's been a greater focus on ensuring all employees have an opportunity to move up in the company, and in making sure careers are described and articulated properly. This, she stressed, will "ensure everyone has clarity on how they can grow and progress in their careers." 

Further, Grant added that the company was taking steps to achieve pay equity. She said that Ubisoft's fiscal year of 2021 to 2022 saw a reduction in its global gender pay gap from 1.7 to 1.3%, and acknowledged that there was more work to be done. 

Ubisoft's blog comes as its employees have spoken up about their own desires and methods on how to improve the company. 

Ubisoft employees say more is needed

Earlier this week, the pro-worker group A Better Ubisoft (ABU) spoke with the community website AC Sisterhood about the company's state. ABU was formed last year by current and former Ubisoft employees to demand that management properly address the publisher's allegations.

One ABU member acknowledged that while several employees responsible for harassment and abuse were fired or resigned, others remain. "They moved to new roles and different studios. Some were even promoted," said the member. 

"Even when they force abusers to quit, they are still protecting them," said another member. "From what we know, Serge Hascoët, Michel Ancel, Maxime Béland and many others have not been fired, they simply resigned. [...] They just moved away from the issue and did not justify anything. Some of them just find another job elsewhere inside the game industry."

A Better Ubisoft's demands included Ubisoft to stop shifting offenders from studio to studio, and for employees to have a greater say in the company going forward. Those demands have yet to be met as of this past summer, and ABU pointed out that Ubisoft is "massively disproportionately" losing women employees as a result. 

Even with demands not met, an ABU member believed that the group has changed the company. "In the process of taking that stand together, we've built a powerful foundation for the future: a huge support network that can collectively push to make Ubisoft a better place to work," they wrote. 

When asked by AC Sisterhood, Grant said that Ubisoft has made "great strides" in having a better workplace culture. Along with putting diversity at the forefront of its games, she pointed out the revamp of Ubisoft's HR department and reporting channels. 

"Ubisoft's people strategy is built upon the principles of listening, transparency and accountability," she wrote. "Looking forward, we are committed to putting diversity and inclusion at the heart of everything we do."

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