Nobody’s surprised to learn that the corporate culture at the tippy-top of Riot Games still has “bad apples,” right? After the huge sexual harassment and discrimination scandal that’s been rolling along for the last two years, now Riot has added a racism scandal on top. But it’s also working a lot harder and more immediately to contain it.
The news was first reported by Vice’s gaming division, which discovered that Riot Games Global Head of Consumer Products Ron Johnson reposted claims about George Floyd’s history in an apparent attempt to minimize police brutality and justify his murder, which has sparked more than two-weeks of anti-racism protests around the world. We won’t be repeating them here except to say that they are deliberately misleading and racist.
But don’t take our word for it on that; take Riot’s. “We’ve been made aware of the social media post and have launched an investigation,” the company said in a response to Vice. “We’ll say firmly that the sentiment in that image is abhorrent, against our values, and directly counter to our belief that addressing systemic racism requires immediate societal change, which we detailed in the commitments we made Friday. While we don’t discuss the details of our investigations or their outcomes, we’re following our disciplinary process closely and have placed him on leave pending its conclusion.”
We do point out here that Riot’s investigation into the VP who repeatedly grabbed subordinates’ balls led to the punishment of merely diversity training and unpaid leave over Christmas, so whether anything happens to this exec for this stunt depends on how much the bosses want to keep him around, we suppose. This is why we can’t have nice things.
“Ron Johnson is no longer employed at Riot Games. The sentiment expressed in the image in question is abhorrent and runs directly counter to our values and our belief that addressing systemic racism requires immediate societal change, something that we’re committed to working toward. As we shared last week, Riot is taking thoughtful and deliberate action to help combat racism and injustice in the communities where we work and live. To start, we’re committing $1 million to areas where we know we can make an impact, including justice reform, long-term solutions to address racial bias, and support for local Black-owned businesses. We’re also striving to change the face of our industry and create opportunities, including by investing $10 million in founders underrepresented in the games industry and helping create a future pipeline of underrepresented talent for the gaming and tech world. We know there is much work to be done, and we vow to do our part.”
An article ESPN further clarifies that CEO Nicolo Laurent told employees that Johnson resigned, having recognized that he “exercised really poor judgment” and would “be ineffective as a leader at Riot going forward.”