Riot Games released a statement today on their official blog addressing the recent allegations of sexism exposed by Kotaku at the beginning of this month. In short, Riot Games was accused of sexist hiring practices and being "a place where women are treated unfairly, where the company's culture puts female employees at a disadvantage."
The game developer as a whole has been rather quiet since the Kotaku story broke, outside of several apologies made by key Riot individuals. The company as a whole responded to the allegations today with a mass apology and an outline of how they plan to move forward. The company has created a new team to oversee the studio's cultural development. That team will answer to Riot Games' CEO directly. Additionally, Riot plans to address many of their internal definitions for words like "gamer" and "meritocracy."
Finally, they plan to revamp their recruitment methods and double-down on training their current staff to foster a more inclusive corporate culture.
You can read Riot Games' official statement in full:
For the past three weeks, we've been focused on listening and learning. As a company, we're used to patching problems ASAP, but this patch will not happen overnight. We will weave this change into our cultural DNA and leave no room for sexism or misogyny. Inclusivity, diversity, respect, and equality are all non-negotiable. While there is much to improve, there is a tremendous amount of good at Riot that will drive this change. This is our top priority until we get it right.
To All Those We've Let Down
Before we get into that, we have a few things to say—some of which we've said internally:
To Rioters, contractors, former Rioters, and past contractors: We're sorry. We're sorry that Riot hasn't always been—or wasn't—the place we promised you. And we're sorry it took so long for us to hear you. In the days, weeks, months, years to come, we're going to make Riot a place we can all be proud of.
To players and fans, past and present: We're humbled by the time you've spent with us. We know that the studio behind a game can be an important part of how you feel about that game. We know we've let you down and we're committed to fixing that.
To people considering a career at Riot: We understand if you have some doubt or hesitation. But we also need you now more than ever. We need people who will drive change and fight for what's right. Building Riot wasn't easy. Rebuilding it won't be either. But the promise of Riot's future is stronger than ever and if you're up for being part of the solution, we want to meet you.
To current and prospective partners: We know you have questions about Riot's culture, and our future. We ask for some patience as we focus internally on taking the steps to heal and improve. We're committed to you, as we are to Rioters, that we're going to set the bar high on culture and that we'll update you as we make progress.
How We Chose Our First Steps
We're committed to do things the right way, and we know the change we need isn't going to happen overnight. We are taking everything we've learned from Rioters and leading culture-change experts, and we are starting to develop a plan with substance.
Rioters have told us that the steps we have taken thus far aren't enough, and we agree. The issues we face are serious, and to drive this change, we need to fully understand the root of the issues. This transformation is going to be the source of our future strength as a company. To get there, we need to evolve our culture, while preserving the good things that we think make Riot special.
Expanding the Culture and D&I Initiative: We've built a new team to lead our cultural evolution. This group and their work will impact every corner of this organization, and will also accelerate our existing cultural and inclusion work. We are all committed to keeping the best parts of today's Riot—like our focus on player empathy—while tirelessly looking toward the future. The team will be accountable to our CEO directly.
Revisiting Cultural Definitions: We are putting everything on the table, including our core cultural tenets, like our manifesto. This includes reevaluating the language of Riot, words like "gamer" and "meritocracy," to ensure they mean the same thing to all of us. If the words are misused or don't help us describe our vision for the future, we won't use them.
Third-Party Evaluation: We have engaged two leading consultants on culture change to provide us with their expertise and recommendations as we rebuild Riot's culture. Our goal isn't just to be good; it's to become a leader on diversity, inclusion, and culture. We're asking them to develop mechanisms to measure our progress and hold us accountable against this objective.
Investigation Process: We're evaluating and improving our investigation process and systems. We understand we lost trust with Rioters, so rebuilding trust is key to making Rioters feel safe and empowered to raise issues. Here's some of what we've done already:
We set up a hotline where anyone can anonymously raise issues and submit complaints.
We have expanded our internal team, and brought in an outside law firm to assess our policies. They'll also be working side-by-side with talent partners to investigate any new claims raised by Rioters to provide an additional, unbiased layer to all of our investigations.
No one and nothing is sacred. We are prepared to make big changes and have begun taking action against specific cases, including removal of Rioters, though we aren't likely to get into those details publicly on a case-by-case basis for legal and privacy reasons.
Reevaluating Recruiting: We're accelerating our efforts to make our recruiting system more open. We're overhauling our job descriptions to ensure they're readily accessible to all demographic groups; reassessing which universities we recruit from; and expanding the pools from which we target our candidates.
Trainings: We're doubling down on trainings. Trainings that had been specific to managers are being expanded to all Rioters, including interview training and anti-harassment training. We're also investing in anti-bias training to encourage behaviors that foster a fair and inclusive work environment. In addition, we are investing in management training for all managers to build and support better teams. These trainings will be required for existing Rioters, with elements integrated into our Rioter onboarding program.
Staffing up for D&I: We are deep into the process of recruiting a new Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), and recently began the search for a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO). They will join the CEO, President, and COO as part of our executive leadership team, and will add critical experience to our existing D&I team to accelerate all our work in this area.
We've always believed that Riot should be the home for the very best talent in gaming. It's clear we've fallen short of that goal. But we've never backed down from a challenge before and we don't plan to start now.