Ubisoft Employees Dissatisfied With CEO’s Response to Call for Real Change in Company Culture

The group argues Yves Guillemot's response skirts real issues.

Earlier this week, hundreds of Ubisoft employees signed an open letter both in solidarity with Activision-Blizzard workers that were taking part in a walkout to protest the poor working conditions within the company, as well as to call for further action from their own leadership about similar issues at Ubisoft. Now, CEO Yves Guillemot has responded to the letter in an internal email, and it sounds like the workers are unimpressed.

Guillemot’s response, which was posted by Axios’ Stephen Toltillo on Twitter, reads as follows:

As many of you know, an open letter signed by current and former Ubisoft team members was published yesterday. For those of you who didn’t see it you can find the article here along with our external statement. This letter expressed strong support for the developers at Activision Blizzard and advocated for large-scale change within our industry. It also raised concerns about Ubisoft and our culture. We reviewed this letter as a leadership team, and we take the issues it raises seriously. For this reason, I want to personally reiterate our commitment to creating real and lasting change at Ubisoft.

We have made important progress over the past year. Since last summer we have implemented new anonymous reporting tools, revamped our HR processes including new global policies to prevent and manage discrimination, retaliation, harassment, installed a new code of conduct, rolled out mandatory training, established a content review group and are bringing in new leadership across major studios, HR, D7I, Editorial and Production. These are important steps forward, but this is a long process, and there is still more work to be done.

Yesterday’s letter expresses concern from employees who want to make Ubisoft a better place. We have heard clearly from this letter that not everyone is confident in the processes that have been put in place to manage misconduct reports. This is a top priority for Anika, who continues to ensure they are robust and independent. In addition to our current processes, we are currently recruiting a new VP Global Employee Relations.

I have always valued free expression at Ubisoft, and I strongly believe this is key for us. This is why last year we launched more than 300 listening sessions with 1500+ team members as well as the company-wide survey and global audit. The feedback from these initiatives has been invaluable in driving our plan forward, and we will offer new sessions for you all to share additional thoughts and feedback on these topics. A new company wide survey (formerly known as Express Yourself) will be launched before the end of the year. We will also continue to empower our Employee Resource Group (ERG) network, by creating more visibility, and leadership support to keep bringing new ideas and initiatives to the table.

You can expect another update in Q3, including next steps on the Values Project, D&I and our HR roadmap. I encourage you to keep sharing your feedback and experiences; you can get in touch with me personally, speak with your management or share comments on Mana. Myself and the entire leadership team is committed to building a better Ubisoft for all of us.

Following Guillemot’s company email, representatives of Ubisoft workers who wrote the original letter reached out to GamesIndustry.biz, pointing out the email fails to address several of the original points the employees brought up. Specifically, some of the offending people who helped create a hostile work environment are still at the company, just moved to different positions.

“We are aware that the company has made some improvements, and we are happy to hear that Yves and the leadership team agree that it is not enough,” the group said in a statement to GI.biz. “However, Ubisoft continues to protect and promote known offenders and their allies. We see management continuing to avoid this issue. It is also worth clarifying that an invitation to reach out to company management personally is not the same as having a collective seat at the table.”

Furthermore, the employees who wrote and signed the letter reiterated that these issues are embedded in the games industry and that more collaboration across company lines, such as Ubisoft workers showing solidarity with Activision-Blizzard, will be required to see these issues addressed on more than an individual company basis.

“By being the first to start this collaboration Ubisoft has the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating a better future for the games industry,” the letter concluded. “We demand that this work be done in collaboration with employees at all levels.

“We want to see real, fundamental change within Ubisoft and across the industry, for the sake of our members. Again, we look forward to a response that addresses all the issues raised and properly acknowledges our demands.”

All of this follows about a year’s worth of fallout following Ubisoft employees coming forward about poor treatment within the company, all of which the company’s leadership publicly acknowledged at arm’s length from a Ubisoft Forward presentation. Earlier this month, higher-ups at the company, including Guillemot, were the subject of a French court complaint regarding the working conditions at Ubisoft.

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Kenneth Shepard

Kenneth is a Staff Writer at Fanbyte. He still periodically cries about the Mass Effect trilogy years after it concluded.

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