A report by French publication Le Télégramme has found that despite impending legal action and high-profile departures, Ubisoft's allegedly toxic work culture hasn't changed much. Ubisoft is attempting to make changes, but Le Télégramme says they don't go far enough.
What's going on with the work culture at Ubisoft?
Last year, following allegations of toxicity and harassment, several prominent Ubisoft executives departed the company. These included former Canada MD Yannis Mallat, former chief creative officer Serge Hascoët, and former global HR head Cécile Cornet. Following this news, French union Solidaires Informatique declared it would be pursuing legal action over harassment and discrimination reported by employees. Ubisoft pledged it would enact "profound changes" across its company structure to rectify these endemic problems, but if Le Télégramme's report - originally spotted by GamesIndustry.biz - is to be believed, this hasn't happened in any meaningful sense.
Le Télégramme's report is entirely in French, so we're using machine translation (it's also behind a paywall). The French publication says that although Ubisoft has appointed a new chief people officer and a new global diversity VP, a Ubisoft social and economic rep says they don't expect "anything to come" from these appointments. This is because the HR staff who covered for the now-departed execs are all still in their jobs, as is Nadeo head Florent Castelnérac, who was accused of abuse by several employees. A Ubisoft union rep said that senior management staff were "protecting" Castelnérac.
Rather shockingly, the publication says 25% of Ubisoft employees declared they had been "victims or witnesses of bad behavior", and that 34% of those who had reported an incident "did not feel supported by their management". Employees say that if the management staff responsible for former cover-ups continue to manage Ubisoft's response to harassment, then "we will fall back into previous failings".
According to Le Télégramme's report, Ubisoft Canada's workplace culture hasn't changed either. In July 2020, Ubisoft hired Yves Guillemot's cousin Christophe Derennes to head up Ubisoft Montréal, but he doesn't appear to have made any positive changes. The publication also alleges that new harassment claims were made, but that the employees who made the claims were sidelined in December last year. Le Télégramme also says that employee groups within the company have suggested helpful initiatives, but that management has largely ignored them.
What is Ubisoft doing to address these allegations?
Some changes have been made by Ubisoft since last year's allegations emerged. The company has introduced an amended code of conduct in which harassment is a "non-negotiable interdiction", according to the aforementioned Solidaires Informatique union. In addition, many Ubisoft staff members have received training, with management in particular being trained with "more advanced sessions focusing on accountability", according to GamesIndustry.biz.
Le Télégramme's report quotes a Ubisoft source as saying that although management wants to leave the 2020 debacle behind as it "represents a risk for the group's durability", not enough is being done to tackle this. Training hasn't been renewed or revisited, and new staff that have joined since that training was offered haven't been given the same training. It's clear that if Le Télégramme's report is true, then Ubisoft still has a very long way to go when it comes to harassment culture.
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