October 20, 2020

Ubisoft senior staff leave over sexual misconduct probe at French gaming giant

Issued on: 12/07/2020 – 13:22Modified: 12/07/2020 – 13:26

French gaming giant Ubisoft is parting ways with its creative director and two other executives and promising zero tolerance for “toxic” staff behavior following an internal investigation of misconduct and media reports of sexual harassment.

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In a statement released Sunday, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said the developer of “Assassin’s Creed” and other games “has fallen short in its obligation to guarantee a safe and inclusive workplace environment for its employees”.

“This is unacceptable, as toxic behaviors are in direct contrast to values on which I have never compromised — and never will,” Guillemot said.

Ubisoft announced the immediate resignation of Serge Hascoet as chief creative officer.

The director of Ubisoft’s Canadian studios, Yannis Mallat, is also leaving immediately, because “recent allegations that have come to light in Canada against multiple employees make it impossible for him to continue in this position”, the statement said.

Cecile Cornet is being replaced as Ubisoft’s global head of human resources.

The management shake-up follows Ubisoft’s announcement in June of an internal investigation and an apology “to everyone affected by this”.

“We must do better,” it said then.

Industry dogged by sexual harassment accusations

Ubisoft, which counts 18,000 employees worldwide, is the latest video game company to face sexual harassment allegations.

The global game industry has been dogged by criticism over its treatment of women in both games and real life.

This was encapsulated in the so-called “gamergate” controversy in the US in 2014, which saw critics of the way women were depicted in games receive death and rape threats. 

The allegations made against Ubisoft on Twitter last month accused managers in the company’s Toronto and Montreal studios of sexual misconduct, and denounced an allegedly toxic work environment for women.

Accusations also targeted managers in Brazil, Bulgaria and the US, with some of the alleged incidents going back years.

Some named the alleged perpetrators, and many accused the company of failing to respond to staff complaints and even promoting those accused of wrongdoing.

“I am a former employee and they swept every claim of sexual harassment under the rug,” read one tweet.

Alleged incidents include a creative director licking the face of a female co-worker during an office party, and a manager demanding oral sex from a colleague.

“Moving forward, as we collectively embark on a path leading to a better Ubisoft, it is my expectation that leaders across the company manage their teams with the utmost respect,” Guillemot said on Sunday.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)