A watchdog has launched an investigation into Ubisoft Singapore over alleged unfairness and sexual harassment.
According to an investigation by Kotaku, staff at Ubisoft Singapore, which is home to around 500 staff and is current working on the troubled Skull & Bones, allegedly suffered from sexual harassment, racial pay disparities and bullying by managers, as well as “bad projects” and “toxic leaders”.
Now, in a report by The Straits Times, an English-language daily broadsheet newspaper based in Singapore, the national watchdog for fair employment practices has launched an investigation into Ubisoft Singapore over the claims.
The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) urged anyone with knowledge of criminal behaviour, such as sexual harassment and assault, to report it to the police.
“It’s very important that we can talk about these things and that we acknowledge what’s going on in our industry right now,” Ubisoft Singapore managing director Darryl Long is quoted as saying.
“We must begin to change how we are perceived as well as how we act internally.”
The investigation into Ubisoft Singapore comes after company employees stated that the company “continues to protect and promote known offenders and their allies.”
Following a recent lawsuit that called the World of Warcraft and Overwatch studio “a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women,” over 1000 current and former Ubisoft employees from 32 studios signed an open letter in solidarity with Activision Blizzard employees.
The letter slammed Ubisoft’s leadership for making “empty promises” in response to allegations of “systemic discrimination, harassment, and bullying” within the company, and proposed an industry-wide collaboration to develop a set of “rules and processes for dealing with reports of these offences.”
According to the letter, Ubisoft was embroiled in its own disturbing reckoning last summer when employees began calling out toxic work environments within the company, including allegations of serious sexual misconduct aimed at senior management.
Nonetheless, despite CEO Yves Guillemot’s assurance that he would “do everything in [his] power to ensure that everyone… feels welcomed, respected, and safe,” the open letter stated that little had changed.
In May, Guillemot issued a lengthy statement outlining the progress he claimed Ubisoft had made since last summer’s devastating reports of sexual harassment and toxic working environments across the company.
The post, which was published on Ubisoft’s blog, followed a French report in Le Télégramme that claimed the company had made only minor changes.
Last summer, a slew of reports detailing sexual assault and harassment were issued by a variety of employees across the company. It contained shocking allegations against several senior employees. Following that, there was a wave of resignations and firings, some of which were made public, while others were not.
Following weeks of devastating headlines, Guillemot himself came under fire, with questions being raised about how much he knew. Guillemot responded in an extraordinary Q&A with investors by saying that “certain individuals betrayed the trust I placed in them,” but that he had “never compromised on my core values and ethics and will never do so.”
According to The Straits Times, if Ubisoft Singapore is found to be in violation of the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Fair Consideration Framework, the company could be barred from applying for new work permits for foreign employees or renewing existing ones for one to two years.
Sexual misconduct involving criminal offences may be investigated by the police. Those found guilty face fines, jail time, and, in some cases, caning, according to The Straits Times.
In response to The Straits Times report, Ubisoft Singapore stated that it had invested in a “dedicated learning path” to support Singaporeans and help staff take on leadership opportunities.
According to Ubisoft, “compensation is determined by role, responsibility, market practises, and performance.”
Long insisted that the studio does not tolerate any form of harassment, discrimination, or misconduct, and that the company had hired a third-party agency to investigate complaints.
“I understand Ubisoft Singapore has recently been mentioned in the news,” Long said.
“I recognise that the studio has faced some challenges over the last decade, and there is still work to be done in terms of our studio culture.”