One year after it was unveiled that Riot Games had been operating for decades in a sexist environment marked by harassment and 'bro culture,' Riot's chief diversity officer says things have improved. And so do other current employees.
Yesterday, chief diversity officer Angela Roseboro posted a retrospective on her six months with the company, a full-year after a Kotaku report detailed the company's history and culture of sexism, misogyny, and harassment. In it, she both recaps known changes (including a number of new diversity and leadership hires), as well as gives a broad idea of internal policy and code of conduct changes the company has made since the report.
A few of those include:
- A new system of values
- Company-wide workplace safety and awareness training
- Formation of platforms for women, non-binary individuals, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and veterans to connect and communicate about issues affecting their communities
- A review of the company's pay process
- A review of the company's recruitment process, including a diversity initiative
- An initiative to increase women's representation at the level of director and above
She went on to include a general overview of the company's plans to continue improving in the coming year, most of which involve continued efforts along existing lines of increasing representation and diversity at all levels, and which do not include any concrete specifics.
While all of these are fairly broad strokes coming from the person who is supposed to be the front-facing promoter of company diversity, today Kotaku has published a follow-up report with interviews from 14 current or recent employees confirming that the company is indeed improving, though thoughts are mixed as to exactly how well. Per the report, all those interviewed were "optimistic" about the future of the company and believe Riot is putting forth meaningful effort. They are also largely pleased with Roseboro's efforts to address company structures and policies that have contributed to the sexist culture in the past.
However, they also reported that some employees feel the efforts have gone too far, with reports of multiple posts on an anonymous workplace messaging app expressing negative opinions on issues such as an ongoing class-action lawsuit by former employees over discrimination and harassment, disbelief at the allegations of sexism, and remarks against those who spoke negatively about the company.
"Because of our Kool-Aidy culture, so many Rioters identify with how Riot is perceived," said a current employee to Kotaku. "They want to feel like it's over, that accusations about sexism are unfair. Most Rioters not directly affected want to and are starting to believe it."
One source said that the app these complaints are appearing on is one used only by a small amount of employees who generally tend to be opposed to "so-called social justice warriors."
Other employees took a milder view and supported the initial changes, but two men who were interviewed noted concerns that the company might "overcorrect" and become a place where their opinions were "shouted down." Roseboro confirmed that there was indeed a struggle as employees adjusted to the new culture, with others saying that those who are afraid of "getting blasted" are "being insanely oversensitive."
Still other employees support the changes, but also feel that the corporate-led nature of them is hurting individuals who have had bad experiences. "Part of leadership's messaging has been that we need to move on," said one. "If the goal is to move on, then building all of this infrastructure for people coming in is absolutely effective at making it a better place for joining the company. That doesn't erase the fact that there are still people there, named in lawsuits for blocking women's promotions . . . Asking us to move on isn't a fair thing to do if these things are still happening. That's sweeping it under the rug."