French police have arrested several former Ubisoft executives to question them about workplace harassment allegations. This is part of an investigation that has been running for more than a year.
As reported by French newspaper Libération, three former Ubisoft employees were taken into custody on October 3, and two others this Wednesday. The list includes:
- Serge Hascoët — former chief creative officer, who was one of the key people in Ubisoft and largely contributed to the company’s shift towards large open world games
- Tommy François — former editorial vice president, who worked alongside Hascoët and was described as his protégé.
The Solidaires Informatique union also reported the detentions, saying that since July 2021, it has helped several victims to file a “complaint against a number of managers and HRs, as well as the company, for systemic sexual harassment.”
According to Libération, the police have been collecting testimonies from around 50 employees for more than a year after those complaints were filed. Following the arrests, the five former executives gave testimony on the misconduct allegations.
A group of Ubisoft workers were accused of harassment in Summer 2020, leading to layoffs and departures of several high-profile employees. Among them were VP Maxime Beland, PR director Stone Chin, Assassin’s Creed director Ashraf Ismail, HR director Cécile Cornet, as well as Hascoët and François. The latter, for example, allegedly tried to forcibly kiss an employee held by members of his team, while Hascoët covered these actions.
Ubisoft’s response to these accusations was to let go certain high-profile harassers (rarely by dismissal) and to introduce a series of measures with no noticeable effect. The HR people who covered up the toxic behavior were not bothered, and were even promoted.
— Solidaires Informatique Jeu Vidéo (@SolInfoJeuVideo) October 4, 2023
In October 2020, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot outlined a few steps to change the toxic working environment after a survey revealed that 25% of the company’s employees experienced or witnessed harassment. However, some employees later said that not much has changed at French publisher in terms of workplace culture, with Ubisoft reportedly still covering some of its top managers.