Top Ubisoft execs eject after staff complain of 'toxic' workplace environment for women at Canadian studios

Trio quits immediately, workers under investigation

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Three senior Ubisoft execs quit over the weekend amid claims of widespread sexual harassment within the video-game giant's Canadian wing.

Chief creative officer Serge Hascoët resigned effective immediately on Sunday. Yves Guillemot, CEO and cofounder of Ubisoft, will take over Hascoët's duties for now, and promised an overhaul of the French game maker's creative teams in light of the complaints and amid an internal investigation.

Yannis Mallat, managing director of Ubisoft’s Canadian studios, also quit, with his employer going as far as saying in a statement: "Recent allegations, which have come to light in Canada against multiple employees, make it impossible for him to continue in this position."

And global HR boss Cécile Cornet ejected, a move "she believes it is in the best interest of the company’s unity," added the software giant.

The announcement [PDF] of the resignations emerged as Ubisoft, best known for its Assassin's Creed and Far Cry franchises, held its Forward conference on July 12, during which it announced its titles for next year.

“Ubisoft has fallen short in its obligation to guarantee a safe and inclusive workplace environment for its employees," Guillemot said. "This is unacceptable, as toxic behaviors are in direct contrast to values on which I have never compromised — and never will."

Blind eye

Those "toxic behaviors" were said to have occurred at Ubisoft's Canadian offices under the watch of Hascoët and Mallat – and Cornet's human-resources department was accused of ignoring the resulting complaints of sexual harassment.

On Friday, Liberation revealed how Ubisoft's operation in Canada was a hostile environment for women. Among the complaints lodged against the company, it was said workers were forced to drink until they were sick or tricked into eating cakes laced with cannabis, and female employees endured lewd comments and physical harassment.

Male staffers openly displayed pornography in front of their female colleagues, and deliberately ignored or sexualized women in the office. This behavior was allowed to continue due to HR looking the other way while the corporation performed well in the market, it was claimed. "The company is restructuring and strengthening its HR function in order to adapt it to the new challenges of the video game industry," Ubisoft added in its statement.

More than 100 complaints were filed alleging sexual harassment, Liberation reported. It is said that as many as 20 employees are under investigation at the corporation.

"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," said Guillemot. "I also expect them to work to drive the change we need, always thinking of what is best for Ubisoft and all its employees.” ®

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