Ubisoft VP Tommy François departs amid ongoing sexual-misconduct scandal

Ubisoft

Ubisoft

Did he jump or was he pushed? Ubisoft confirmed yesterday that Tommy François has left the company under the cloud of a sexual-misconduct accusation. The company did not, however, make it clear whether it fired the top exec or accepted his resignation.

Gamers and ESports fans know Ubisoft as the maker of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege as well as titles in the Assassin’s Creed series. Ubisoft is based in Montreuil, France, but has offices and studios around the world. Ubisoft’s Canadian HQ is in Montreal. It also operates facilities in other Canadian cities. These include Quebec City, Halifax, and Toronto.

François was the company’s vice-president of editorial and creative services. On July 6, however, Ubisoft announced that it was putting him on administrative leave pending an investigation of allegations against him. On the same day, the company released a statement confirming that another of its VPs, Toronto-based Maxime Béland, had resigned. That announcement, emailed to the website Polygon, read in part:

Maxime Beland, Vice President Editorial, has resigned from his role at Ubisoft, effective immediately. Despite his resignation, we continue to investigate the allegations made against him. Additionally, effective as of yesterday, Tommy François, Vice President Editorial & Creative Services, has been placed on disciplinary leave pending the outcome of an investigation. One other individual in our Toronto studio has been terminated for engaging in behaviors that do not align with what is expected of Ubisoft employees. Other investigations are ongoing and will be conducted rigorously.

Just the latest

A Kotaku article detailed allegations against Béland. According to one account, for example, he allegedly choked a woman at a company party.

As for François, the allegations against him include various instances of harrassment and abuse, including unwanted physical contact.

His firing—or resignation—is just the latest in a series of departures from the company as accounts of sexual misconduct have come to light. Others include PR director Stone Chin; chief creative officer Serge Hascöet; Yannis Mallat, the managing director of Canadian studios; global HR head Cécile Cornet; and an unnamed Ubisoft Toronto staff member.

Profound changes

Prior to these departures, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot had released an internal letter. In the July 2 missive, he outlined the company’s plans to address the allegations, and promised “profound changes at all levels”.

“We are not looking for a quick fix, but rather a structural shift at Ubisoft that fully aligns with our values—values that do not tolerate toxic behaviors and where everyone feels safe to speak out,” he wrote. 

In order to achieve this “structural shift”, Guillemot outlined the following concrete initiatives:

  • appointment of a head of workplace culture
  • employee listening sessions in all locations
  • launch of a global employee survey
  • ongoing investigations into allegations
  • comprehensive review of policies and procedures
  • creation of the new position of head of diversity and inclusion

“I am convinced that, all together, we will build a better Ubisoft for the benefit of all,” Guillemot concluded.

In July, the French union Solidaires Informatique announced that it intends to take Ubisoft to court. The union invited alleged victims to add their testimonies to a collective legal action, spearheaded by labour lawyer Maude Beckers.

In its call for testimonies, moreover, the union made it clear that it hopes to send a message to the industry as a whole. “As the many testimonies that have come out over the past few weeks show, it is the whole sexist, homophobic and racist culture that we need to destroy in the entire video game and computer industry,” it read.

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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