Not so long ago, a crisis management group was set up at the French video game publisher Ubisoft – the desperate move was motivated by the growing news of sexual harassment raging within the company for several years. There was no question: they had to move. Now that the investigation team has been working for some time, bigger and bigger fishes get on the hook. Indeed, as it turned out, quite a few influential figures were also involved in the case.
The clues led to Serge Hascoët
As the French Liberation site continued its own investigation into those involved in the case, they’ve found themselves confronted with a wall of HR. Employees in the human resources department defended the reputation of Ubisoft and its bosses with tooth and nail. The truth, however, emerged, though it’s mouth was otherwise squeezed by careful hands.
One of the main creatives, the company’s second man, Serge Hascoët, seemed to eventually become the first person in the case. However, it would be premature to call him number one because investigations are still ongoing, yet it is shocking that sexual predatory behaviour was tolerated at his level as well.
The man was mentioned by several unnamed sources, and one of the prominent figures in the HR department called it downright “the most toxic figure in the company” and said they all knew about it. The behaviour of the dreaded creative boss was thus tolerated by the company. Abuses were commonplace, but everyone was tolerant, as he was the leading creative of games like Assassin’s Creed or Watch Dogs. So it can be said that Ubisoft would not be where it is today if it is not for him…
Unfortunately, the man’s great mind is accompanied by a darker side, and the beast cornered is the most dangerous.
What did this man do? Well, he used drugs regularly and smuggled drugs into the food and drinks of other workers without their knowledge! In addition, an HR lady reported the case of Hascoët approaching her openly, sexually, in front of his other senior subordinates, thus humiliating her. We would not cite the exact case because of the rules of good taste, but it had to do with a sexual act from behind that the man would have used to “teach” the woman.
A man famous for his sick sexual behaviour was mostly known for his hatred and homophobia within Ubisoft. Hascoët had a typical behavior of having a dog growl when a woman showed up…
It seems that the HR department, which would have been tasked with dealing with such cases, was also defending those who were guilty. Although Serge Hascoët is not under internal investigation (!), there have been hundreds of uninvestigated reports of harassment, ranging in severity from public pornography to rape. And HR did nothing. The head of the HR department, Cécile Cornet, now seems to have all the responsibilities. The woman has rejected all previous well-founded accusations with answers like that they, the creatives, are just like that, or that if you can’t work with him, go away. This method was used to clean the management’s name.
The company’s internal problem reporter – and this is perhaps the most shocking – did not even allow harassment and sexual abuse reporting, as the phenomenon has become fully part of the corporate culture – so the reports would have been continuous.
Cécile Cornet eventually testified, perhaps, so that the responsibility wouldn’t be only hers: Yves Guillemot also knew everything, but for him, the toxic atmosphere was tolerable as long as it did not go to the detriment of the work.
What will Ubisoft do now, and what about Yves Guillemot? Well, while some members of HR were playing defenders, Chief Guillemot promised they would move. In the same way, Yves Guillemot asked to be informed of any further cases.
The situation is that, unfortunately, abuse of power is commonplace in the lives of companies, be it sexual in nature or otherwise. We can only hope that the investigation will continue and end successfully: 20 people are already being investigated, most of them in such a serious situation that they are said to be certain to be fired.
Maybe the company will finally be cleaned up? It will be clear soon.
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