League Of Legends Dev Riot Responds To Claims Of Sexist Work Environment
"Inclusivity, diversity, respect, and equality are all non-negotiable."
Riot Games has responded to a story alleging that the League of Legends developer has a toxic, sexist workplace environment and outlined how it plans to address the matter. In a statement, Riot said it has been spending its time "listening and learning" in the time since Kotaku published its story in early August.
The studio used a video game metaphor to describe how it plans to address the claims. "As a company, we're used to patching problems ASAP, but this patch will not happen overnight. We will weave this change into our cultural DNA and leave no room for sexism and misogyny," Riot said.
The statement continues: "Inclusivity, diversity, respect, and equality are all non-negotiable. While there is much to improve, there is a tremendous amount of good at Riot that will drive this change. This is our top priority until we get it right."
Riot used the statement to apologise to employees past and present, who worked for the company internally and on a contract basis. "We're sorry. We're sorry that Riot hasn't always been--or wasn't--the place we promised you. And we're sorry it took so long for us to hear you," Riot said.
The studio added that, over the coming days, weeks, months, and years, Riot will strive to "make Riot a place we can all be proud of."
Riot also addressed players past and present, saying, "We know we've let you down, and we're committed to fixing that." And to those looking for a job at Riot, the studio said it understands the doubts some might have about joining the company. "But we also need you now more than ever," Riot said. "We need people who will drive change and fight for what's right."
Additionally, Riot's statement addressed the partners it works with, asking them for patience as Riot takes steps to "heal and improve."
But what is Riot actually going to do to improve its studio culture? Riot said these issues are "serious," and the company's culture must evolve to get to a better place. Riot's "First Steps" will include seven items, including things like establishing a new internal team to focus on "cultural evolution" and launching new anti-harassment training sessions. Additionally, Riot has established an anonymous hotline that employees can call to bring up issues, while the company has also hired an external law firm to review its new policies. The seven "First Steps" are listed below, as published in Riot's statement:
Expanding the Culture and D&I Initiative: We've built a new team to lead our cultural evolution. This group and their work will impact every corner of this organization, and will also accelerate our existing cultural and inclusion work. We are all committed to keeping the best parts of today's Riot--like our focus on player empathy--while tirelessly looking toward the future. The team will be accountable to our CEO directly.
Revisiting Cultural Definitions: We are putting everything on the table, including our core cultural tenets, like our manifesto. This includes reevaluating the language of Riot, words like "gamer" and "meritocracy," to ensure they mean the same thing to all of us. If the words are misused or don’t help us describe our vision for the future, we won't use them.
Third-Party Evaluation: We have engaged two leading consultants on culture change to provide us with their expertise and recommendations as we rebuild Riot's culture. Our goal isn't just to be good; it’s to become a leader on diversity, inclusion, and culture. We're asking them to develop mechanisms to measure our progress and hold us accountable against this objective.
Investigation Process: We're evaluating and improving our investigation process and systems. We understand we lost trust with Rioters, so rebuilding trust is key to making Rioters feel safe and empowered to raise issues. Here's some of what we've done already:
We set up a hotline where anyone can anonymously raise issues and submit complaints.
We have expanded our internal team, and brought in an outside law firm to assess our policies. They'll also be working side-by-side with talent partners to investigate any new claims raised by Rioters to provide an additional, unbiased layer to all of our investigations.
No one and nothing is sacred. We are prepared to make big changes and have begun taking action against specific cases, including removal of Rioters, though we aren’t likely to get into those details publicly on a case-by-case basis for legal and privacy reasons.
Reevaluating Recruiting: We’re accelerating our efforts to make our recruiting system more open. We're overhauling our job descriptions to ensure they're readily accessible to all demographic groups; reassessing which universities we recruit from; and expanding the pools from which we target our candidates.
Trainings: We're doubling down on trainings. Trainings that had been specific to managers are being expanded to all Rioters, including interview training and anti-harassment training. We’re also investing in anti-bias training to encourage behaviors that foster a fair and inclusive work environment. In addition, we are investing in management training for all managers to build and support better teams. These trainings will be required for existing Rioters, with elements integrated into our Rioter onboarding program.
Staffing up for D&I: We are deep into the process of recruiting a new Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), and recently began the search for a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). They will join the CEO, President, and COO as part of our executive leadership team, and will add critical experience to our existing D&I team to accelerate all our work in this area.
Kotaku's report, "Inside The Culture Of Sexism At Riot Games," contained a number of shocking claims and revelations. One source told the site, "The 'bro culture' there is so real. It's agonizingly real. It's like working at a giant fraternity." You can read the full story here.
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