Ubisoft has fired editorial Vice President Tommy François following multiple claims of sexual harassment from employees, according to a report from Business Insider.
Among the many abuses of power François is accused of are: flirting with subordinates, making homophobic jokes, giving unwanted massages, making sexual prepositions and grabbing genitals. Multiple employees attempted to report François’ behavior, but were ignored until the allegations came to light.
Ubisoft placed François on unpaid disciplinary leave following a report from Kotaku in early July, but the bulk of that particular piece focused on the similarly disgusting behavior from another editorial vice president, Maxime Béland, who resigned shortly thereafter.
Later, an investigative piece from Bloomberg gave a closer look into allegations concerning François from current and former Ubisoft employees. It also emphasized how these men’s behavior was not just an unfortunate case of there being a few “bad apples,” but rather a symptom of a larger culture of sexism, discrimination and abuse at Ubisoft.
This sexist culture has even made it into its games, as developers were told to make protagonists exclusively white, male and heterosexual, saying that “women don’t sell.” In cases where non-male characters have taken leading roles, such as Kassandra in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Ubisoft told the game’s developers to make an equal male counterpart players could control.
Business Insider obtained an email sent Friday from Ubisoft’s CEO, Yves Guillemot, who informed staff that François had been fired. François isn’t getting any financial settlement, but he is allowed to keep any shares he has in the company.
This is not a case of a company removing its sexist, abusive members out of concern for the safety of its employees. If that were the case, this would have happened when many employees contacted HR and voiced their discomfort. Instead, this is a case of a company trying to cover its butt after multiple reports and allegations have threatened to damage its image.
And this isn’t a problem unique to Ubisoft. All across and beyond the videogame industry, Twitch, Facebook, Paradox Interactive, Cards Against Humanity, Techland, Gato Studio, Bungie, IGN and more have reckoned with a wave of new sexual harassment and assault allegations.
Some call for the industry to be torn down and start anew. Others have criticized the media’s willingness to cover the products of knowingly abusive companies. But the bottom line is clear: Something has to change.