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

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot.
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.

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His answer centered 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.

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With all that going on, and numerous allegations that bad behavior 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.”

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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 behavior that chased women out of the company, could be traced all the way up to the power structures in the company’s Paris HQ.

Editor-in-Chief. Playing: AC Odyssey (need to get back to Ashen, Spider-Man, RDR2, Iconoclasts, Arkham Origins, Sushi Striker, Samus Returns, and Ghost Recon Breakpoint)

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DISCUSSION

Even if he did tell people to take valid action against allegations, and even if those people then failed to follow through or do what they were told, the responsibility still rests on the one giving the orders. I do a fair amount of project management at my job, and if one of the developers on a project fails to deliver on time, that (usually) is a failure on me, not them. I didn’t make sure they got what they needed. I didn’t follow up on tasks I asked them to complete. I didn’t provide a realistic timeline on results. With something as serious as sexual misconduct, Guillemot should have provided a clear set of actions, and a clear timeline to complete them. Then he should have followed up to ensure responsibility and accountability. Don’t blame the people that work for you for your own management failures.