The global head of HR at Ubisoft – and five senior executives – have resigned after becoming embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal at the French video game company.
The gaming giant launched an internal probe in June after claims of sexual misconduct and unacceptable behaviour among executives that fuelled a “toxic” work culture were brought to light, according to the Daily Mail.
Last weekend, a statement was issued by Ubisoft stating that Global head of HR, Cécile Cornet, chief creative officer, Serge Hascoet and director of Ubisoft Canada, Yannis Mallat had all stepped away from their roles, with immediate effect. This followed on from the earlier resignation of two high-profile executives.
Litany of scandalous behaviour
Creative Director Serge Hascoet – responsible for leading the Ubisoft’s blockbuster franchises such as Assassin’s Creed – has been singled out for particular attention.
French newspaper Libération published a report where employees described Hascoet as someone who was recognised in the firm for “his toxicity, his misogyny, his homophobia and his libidinous behaviour”.
Several employees raised concerns that Hascoet would drug co-workers “without their knowledge” – including senior management employees – by handing out cakes laced with marijuana.
Another allegation was that the former creative director apparently “blocked a woman in the elevator and put himself against her, making groaning sounds and looking her in the eyes”.
Co-founder of Ubisoft Canada, Maxime Beland (who also recently quit), was apparently accused of choking a female colleague at a work party in 2014, in addition to making “demeaning” jokes directed at female co-workers that led to explicit requests for sexual favours.
An independent investigation by Kotaku into the allegations concluded that leaders at the company drove “an overall workplace culture that undervalues women’s contributions, normalises sexism and harassment, and makes excuses for the worst offenders while complaints about them go unheeded”.
HR behaving badly
Cécile Cornet, Ubisoft’s global head of HR, has resigned her position saying that it is “in the best interest of the company’s unity”. The company’s HR department has been accused of failing to address hundreds of sexual assault claims, while also failing to hold those allegedly responsible to account.
Libération also described toxic work conditions enabled by Ubisoft’s HR, such as the definition of workplace harassment code of conduct that was updated in 2015 to remove the case of a manager sexually harassing an employee who had reported the incident.
An off-the-record source involved in the creation of the policy said that HR management did not include the clause that a manager at Ubisoft could possibly be responsible for harassment as it was “deemed too pessimistic and employees might think it can happen”.
A statement on the scandal by Yves Guillemot, CEO and co-founder of the company, read: “Ubisoft has fallen short in its obligation to guarantee a safe and inclusive workplace environment for its employees.
“This is unacceptable, as toxic behaviours are in direct contrast to values on which I have never compromised – and never will. I am committed to implementing profound changes across the company to improve and strengthen our workplace culture.”
Parts of this article first appeared on the HR Grapevine website