Pressed On Accountability, Ubisoft CEO Avoids Taking Blame For Company’s Sexual Misconduct Problems

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Pressed On Accountability, Ubisoft CEO Avoids Taking Blame For Company’s Sexual Misconduct Problems
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. (Photo: Christian Petersen, Getty Images)

In a call with investors today, a financial analyst asked Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot about what he knew about the sexual misconduct that now appears to have been widespread at the multinational publisher.

His answer centred on others betraying his trust and failed to acknowledge any accountability.

The misconduct at Ubisoft has been widely discussed by current and former employees who’ve risked speaking out on social media. It has been covered by Kotaku, Bloomberg, and others. It has resulted in leaves of absence, firings, and resignations of powerful people — mostly men — at the company, including the resignation of Guillemot’s number two at the publisher, longtime chief creative officer Serge Hascoët.

With all that going on, and numerous allegations that bad behaviour was known about and tolerated in the company for years, and with Guillemot now proposing that he will lead company reforms to fix these problems, it’s essential to find out what Guillemot knew and what he did about it.

Ken Rumph from the analyst firm Jefferies posed the question this way:

“I wanted to ask a question of Yves as a founder and CEO of the company — and more important people than me will ask — but in a sense I could present the question regarding what’s happened recently as kind of three options:

“Either as CEO you didn’t know this was happening…which is not great.

“Or, you perhaps didn’t know enough and should have asked more. Maybe that’s the answer.

“Or you knew, which of course would not be good.

“Now, those are my possibilities. You may answer the question differently. But I’d like to ask what would be your answer to the question about your responsibility as CEO and, as I say, I’m asking the question but probably more important people than me will ask it.”

Ubisoft CEO Guillemot’s response:

“Thank you for your question. In fact, each time we have been made aware of this conduct we have made, actually, tough decisions. And we made sure those decisions had a clear and positive impact. So that’s very important. It has now become clear that certain individuals betrayed the trust I placed in them and [unintelligible] Ubisoft’s shared values. So I have never compromised on my core values and ethics and never will. I will continue to run and transform Ubisoft to face today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”

His answer seems to be in line with Rumph’s first option. Guillemot has not been personally cited for misconduct, as far as we’ve seen. Nevertheless, he runs the company. And his reply is unlikely to go down well with people — including many sources who have spoken to Kotaku — who have said that Ubisoft’s problems, including a pattern of behaviour that chased women out of the company, could be traced all the way up to the power structures in the company’s Paris HQ.

Comments

  • What everyone appears to be missing here is that these allegations are the result of the GOOD choices made by Ubisoft.

    The reality is that unless you lead an incredibly sheltered life – and many people do – then you will know that this kind of behaviour is the standard for the majority of large businesses or government departments. Anywhere you get large numbers of male and female staffers, with particular demographics especially, this happens – and then some. The only question tends to be how good they are at keeping it quiet and in most cases the answer is ‘very good’.

    That’s the point here. You’re hearing about this because Ubisoft has made positive choices to hire a lot of really, really good staff members – and that’s why they are speaking out. They hired a lot of progressive people, a lot of women – the kinds of folks who will actually take action when they can.

    The other game companies with more conservative, male-dominated environments are currently keeping their dirty secrets under wraps.

    And you can bet there’s a lot more of them in those companies, and they are a lot dirtier.

    • The problem is that this mentality maintains the status quo. Yes, this happens, especially in large companies in male dominated industries. I don’t think anyone is clueless to that unless, as you said, they are quite sheltered. But companies shouldn’t be rewarded for half-measures that enable misogynistic culture. Great, so, Ubisoft is better than the company in Wolf of Wall Street – so what? Maybe the truth of it is that patting people on the back and saying ‘hey, you did your best to combat an inherently sexist work culture’ simply isn’t enough. Maybe these larger offenders get away with it because as long as smaller offenders are taking half measures and not being called out for workplace toxicity, it only serves to make these practices more widely acceptable in the darker corners of the world.
      I like Ubisoft, I like their games, and I’m sure there are a lot of good people that work there. But some accountability here isn’t a bad thing and this will hopefully impact broader reaching social changes. You don’t enable and excuse date-rapists because there are worse kinds of rape; negative behaviour should be called out regardless of severity.

    • What a loud of ridiculous excuses and what are the sources for it? you think because they hired people who arent afraid to speak up, therefore they should be excused of blame to allowing this institutionalised behaviour to go on for so long?

      They should have been THAT company a decade ago. not being praised for it now.

      Anyone can say ‘they are a changed man’ when caught out, only time will tell if that is really true.

    • I’m unsure whether you two simply didn’t read my post, or didn’t understand it.

      All I’m doing is pointing out something REALLY simple:

      – An organisation that hires more women and progressive people is more likely to eventually uncover these issues and be forced to deal with them. Organisations that hire more men and more conservative people keep these issues suppressed for longer.

      This is really simple and demonstrable logic.

      I’m not ENDORSING corporate misogyny, quite the opposite.

        • The vast majority are. Sure, there are tiny outlying percentages where females are not employed or structure is such that this kind of behaviour is pretty much impossible, but in almost every company where men and women mix this is the case.

          The fact you don’t understand why is the problem here.

          This is a systemic issue in human society. It is EVERYWHERE, if you look.

          I don’t know a single woman who has not encountered it.

          The only people who are unaware of this are those who have led sheltered lives of privilege, or those who are so caught up in it that they accept it as being ‘normal’.

      • Now, I’m noy sure if you read my post, because my point is – whether or not you think you’re not endorsing corporate misogny, you kind of are by explaining away Ubisofts shortcomings in favour of their positives. I read your post in it’s entirety, how else could I have made this point?

  • Curious to see what will be left of Ubisoft by the time this is over… Would at least be nice if the decent people remaining there can get back to making the games they want to without fear of being harassed, assaulted, etc.

  • Notice how nowhere in that statement does he say that abusers were fired, or deny that abusers were shuffled between departments or offices. Nor does he deny that he knew about the abuse and the transfers.
    All that would fall under “tough decisions”, because management may (toughly) decide that the benefit of keeping a productive employee on staff outweighs removing an abusive employee from staff.

      • Wow, this really struck some sort of nerve with you. What was it?

        You have attempted to downlplay every valid criticism someone has had.

        • No, stupid people making stupid comments and stupid decisions that actually hurt the people they claim to support annoy me.

          Use your brains and eyes.

          I’m not downplaying criticism of misogyny, in case you missed it I’m the biggest Leftist on here.

          I’m trying to get people to think about things rather than kneejerking.

          Because I guarantee most of the people outraged right now will forget this within a week or two while those of us who actually give a crap watch this shit continue in pretty much every company because this is a SYSTEMIC issue, not just individual firms.

          And if you’re not talking about systemic issues but focusing on one company, then you’re part of the problem not the solution.

  • Well I was looking forward to Legion and especially Valhalla after absolutely loving Odyssey but I think I will spend my money elsewhere.

    It would be nice for the odd game company to release something I like and not be absolutely vile monsters

    • So what you’re saying is all the women who worked on these titles won’t get your support?

      You need to think a little bit harder here. It isn’t your dollars going into a company that creates and supports misogyny.

      That misogyny is part of our society in pretty much every aspect. You buying a game from this company or not won’t affect that, all you can do is work in the areas of your own life to aggressively fight it.

      And at least with Ubisoft you know SOMETHING has been done.

      If you buy a game from any other company, chances are you’re handing cash over to a company that does as bad or worse, but is simply better at hiding it.

      • *sigh*
        I can also choose to not give my money to a company that is not run by a ceo who is either incompetent or a freaking moron and who only did something when the PR forced him to.

        So no I am not giving a company that supported a rapist and other sexual abusers my money and if that is something you have to debate then you are either a complete tool or an edgelord looking to troll

        • *sigh*
          When all the women who work their get their pay cut in return for your virtue signalling, you’ll know your job is well done.

          Because that is who you’re punishing, not the executives.

          But this is all about you feeling good, not about the impact on other people.

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