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Riot Apologizes To Employees And Players In Wake Of Recent Sexism Allegations

by Suriel Vazquez on Aug 29, 2018 at 11:38 AM

League of Legends developer Riot Games has come under intense scrutiny after allegations regarding rampant misogyny and sexism in the company's offices. Today, the company announced its first steps to begin improving the company.

The allegations first arose in an exhaustive exposé from Kotaku, which revealed several women at the company were being mistreated, disrespected and passed up for promotions based on their gender. In the wake of the article, former Riot employees told their stories about similar incidents they faced at the company.

As a result, Riot has posted a blog on their website outlining some of the changes the company plans to undertake. "We will weave this change into our cultural DNA and leave no room for sexism or misogyny," the company said. "Inclusivity, diversity, respect, and equality are all non-negotiable."

The company began by apologizing to those affected by its current culture, including current and former contractors and employees, prospective employees, partners, fans, and players. In its apologies, the company outlined how its current culture had damaged their potential careers, made fans feel skeptical about playing League of Legends, and made partners wary of working with the company. "In the days, weeks, months, years to come, we’re going to make Riot a place we can all be proud of," the company said to its employees and contractors.

Aftering taking feedback from employees about how the developer had been addressing sexism in its culture, the company announced several changes. To start, the company's existing diversity and inclusion team will be expanded, and will now "impact every corner of this organization," being directly accountable to Riot's CEO. The company is also looking into some of the words it uses to describe itself, such as "gamer" and "meritocracy."

"If the words are misused or don’t help us describe our vision for the future, we won’t use them," Riot said.

When incidents do happen, Riot is also expanding the scope of how it changes its culture. This includes hiring "two leading consultants on culture change to provide us with their expertise and recommendations as we rebuild Riot’s culture." It will also become easier for employees to report incidents to the company, as the company has established a hotline employees can call anonymously, hired an third-party law firm to help investigate complaints, and are prepared to fire employees found in violation of these policies. "No one and nothing is sacred," the company promised.

Recruiting is also undergoing some changes. Job openings are being rewritten to use more inclusive language, targeting different universities, and "and expanding the pools from which we target our candidates." All employees will now also receive anti-harassment and bias training, and managers will receive training when it comes to teambuilding. Finally, the company is hiring for new positions oriented around diversity and inclusion, including Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Diversity Officer, who will sit on the executive leadership team along with the CEO, President, and COO.

"We’ve always believed that Riot should be the home for the very best talent in gaming," Riot said in the closing paragraph of its post. "It’s clear we’ve fallen short of that goal. But we’ve never backed down from a challenge before and we don’t plan to start now."

[Source: Riot Games]


These statements sound like the extensive, sweeping changes a company needs to make in order to boost employee morale and make up for its many past mistakes on paper, but I'll have to wait and see how these changes play out long-term. I'd be curious to see how employees react to these changes a year down the road; will the people who benefited from the previous culture be receptive to these changes?

That said, progress on issues of culture and diversity can be hard to measure from the outside; Riot could release a statement or video down the road touting employee testimonials saying how much better the place has gotten, but it would be hard to know how accurately that would reflect actual sentiment. For now, I hope the people at the top are pushing these changes not just because it's the "right" thing to do from a PR perspective, but because they've genuinely realized their past mistakes.

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