Riot Games hires former Uber exec to advise on still-raging sexism scandal

    
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Earlier this week, League of Legends developer Riot Games announced that it has hired the services of former Senior Vice President of Leadership at Uber and Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei. Frei will be advising Riot executives as they attempt to further strengthen and refine their Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiative.

The announcement follows in the wake of a sexual-harassment scandal that broke at the beginning of last month thanks to an in-depth exposé from Kotaku. Later in the month, after some weeks, Riot Games broke its silence over the reported rampancy of sexism and discrimination within the studio, posting a letter titled Our First Steps Forward, in which the studio issued apologies to Riot employees both past and present and promised sweeping changes to the way the studio addresses issues of diversity and inclusion.

“No one and nothing is sacred,” the post proclaimed, though a follow-up investigative report published yesterday by Kotaku suggests that this may not be the case: One Rioter interviewed in her piece says, “The question we’ve been asking ourselves around the office is, ‘Is there another level of accountability to this? Are we going to punish people for transgressions until we hit a certain level of seniority?'”

The issues of sexism and discrimination came to the forefront again following a series of workshops held by Riot at this year’s PAX West in Seattle. Because some of Riot’s workshop sessions were open only to women and non-binary individuals, some of the community erupted into cries of “reverse sexism.” Although Riot appeared to stand its ground, stating in a tweet that it is “proud of” its PAX workshops, the aftermath resulted in the the studio parting ways with two employees who spoke out against the community’s outrage, one of whom was fired for “violating social media policy” and the other of whom left under questionable circumstances.

Although it remains to be seen what kind of long-term impact, if any, Riot’s hiring of Frei will have on the studio’s internal culture issues, it does seem to indicate that the promises made in the Our First Steps Forward letter were sincere. The question remains, however, as to whether these efforts can effect a profound change in the studio’s deeply entrenched culture and, moreover, whether the studio’s playerbase itself will ever fall into line with Riot’s own publicly stated vision of diversity and inclusion within the gaming community.

Source: Polygon, Kotaku
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Philip Armstrong

I often find my self wondering if the people loudly complaining about Riot’s problems are actual customers. Much like people claiming to boycott anything, how many people just want other people to know they feel a certain way, but really have no skin in the game.

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Nathan Aldana

call me cynical, but hiring someone from a corporation who had their own sexism scandals about the bosses to handle a sexism scandal seems..like hiring a KKK member to help with your black community outreach initiative?

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Utakata

Here’s my free advice on how Riot should deal with sexism: Don’t be sexist!

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J

First time I had noticed Daniel Klein was canned, but can’t say I am surprised at all after reading the Twit-ter posts from a few weeks back.

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Sorenthaz

Tencent vs. Riot (full text in comments) from leagueoflegends

Also there’s been more insight into the Tencent/Riot tensions.

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Sally Bowls

Thank you; that was informative.

I was amused at some of the LoL-cant-work-on-mobile comments, considering that was getting 200,000,000 MAUs.

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Bruno Brito

This honestly sounds like my childhood: You chastise everybody ( including the victim ), you then proceed to awkwardly explain to everyone how stuff should work, everyone will agree just to make this debacle end, and nothing will improve.

I actually hope they progress on this, but the cynic in me just accepts it won’t be anything meaningful, because the upper echelons will be untouched.

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Sally Bowls

but the cynic in me just accepts it won’t be anything meaningful, because the upper echelons will be untouched.

probably. Although Riot is not an independent company; the upper echelons are there until they are not.

They have been mismanaging LoL and missed something as incredibly obvious as mobile. So being Neandrathal morons could be the excuse, not the reason, for replacing them.

Alex Js.
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Alex Js.

Ohh, more TMZ-grade juicy drama! I wonder when you’ll start to include music/movie celebrities in it… ;-)

Pingly
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Pingly

How much does a business Executive who is a Harvard Professor cost to hire?

That is what they are spending because they couldn’t figure out how to stop acting like creeps on their own.

How bad must it have been?

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A Dad Supreme

It’s funny to see a major company plagued with serious sexism allegations (Riot) hire someone who just six months ago left a major company that was recently embroiled in racial profiling and discrimination allegations. (Uber)

https://money.cnn.com/2018/07/11/technology/uber-hr-head-resigns/index.html

The really odd thing was how short her stay at Uber was, less than a year.

https://money.cnn.com/2018/02/27/technology/uber-frances-frei-leaves/index.html

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Paragon Lost

I speculated it was because she couldn’t get the changes made that needed to be made and left in disgust. Uber’s a pretty sad sack of crap type of company across the board.

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Bryan Correll

My first thought was that hiring an Uber executive to fix corporate culture was a lot like hiring a fox to guard a hen house.

styopa
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styopa

“Are we going to punish people for transgressions until we hit a certain level of seniority?”

Sorry to be cynical, but of course you are. That’s how the world WORKS.

Look at #MeToo and Hollywood for example. In no other business world would a would anyone assert that business should be conducted over drinks at a hotel bar, followed by going up to his hotel room to “read lines” with the door locked. The latest Weinstein video shows him and a 20-something(?) young woman where she’s making a pitch to him – he shuts and locks the door telling the people outside “don’t interrupt us”. In what other industry would that NOT set off alarms to everyone?

Young people entering this world went along because they were told “well, this is just how it’s done“. It seems now some people who spent a great deal of effort NOT seeing what was going on are coming to the realization that “this was how it’s done” for a reason.

Sorry, but d’oh. I find it hard to believe that company founders that essentially set the company culture according to their own appetites and behavior are going to be able to somehow ‘get counseling’ or whatever to fundamentally change those appetites. At the very BEST, they’ll learn how to hide them and not let them show in public or in professional settings. More likely, they’ll just learn to be more circumspect about their actions….but they aren’t ACTUALLY going to stop being the people they evidently are.

It will eventually boil down to: if you don’t want to be a part of that culture, work somewhere else. Which, TBH, was always their choice. IIRC Riot even had an accelerated buyout that would encourage people who weren’t happy there to GTFO with a handful of cash. In that circumstance, really, staying becomes their choice.

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Bruno Brito

The world doesn’t, nor it should, work in the basis of you being able to harass your co-workers or employees.

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Utakata

What we need instead is an anti-establishment narcissist that breaks all the rules to seize the power from the PC masses to make our real world great again…

…oh wait, that actually doesn’t work! o.O

(Disclaimer: Yes, the pigtails where being sarcastic for the first bit.)

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Nathan Aldana

if those people cant change for the better, then well, we shouldnt just shrug, give up, and let them continue being successful business owners. We should fucking cruciofy them in a metaphorical sense until the day they die.