Sexual Harassment Investigation Launched at Ubisoft Singapore

The Skull & Bones studio is still in choppy waters.
The Skull & Bones studio is still in choppy waters. / Photo courtesy of Ubisoft

A national watchdog for fair employment practices has launched an investigation into Ubisoft Singapore over alleged unfairness and sexual harassment.

According to The Straits Times, an English-language newspaper based in Singapore, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) has opened the investigation, and encourages anyone with knowledge of criminal misconduct, such as sexual harassment and assault, to report those incidents to the police.

Ubisoft Singapore managing director Darryl Long expressed his support for the investigation.

"It's very important that we can talk about these things and that we acknowledge what's going on in our industry right now...

"We need to start to change the way we are perceived and the way we act internally as well."

In July, Kotaku published a scathing report describing a culture of bullying, sexual harassment and racial pay disparities at Ubisoft Singapore. The studio, which employs around 500 staff, is currently working on pirate adventure game Skull & Bones, a project that has foundered in development hell for years. Kotaku's report lays some of the blame for Skull & Bones lengthy development at the feet of toxic leadership.

The Straits Times reports Tafep received anonymous feedback on July 23 that included links to media articles about the allegations of workplace harassment at Ubisoft Singapore, prompting the organization to begin its investigation.

When the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing published a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard alleging its own culture of sexism and harassment, more than 1,000 current and former Ubisoft employees across the company's 32 global studios signed an open letter in solidarity with Activision Blizzard employees.

Ubisoft employees accused management of continuing to "protect and promote known offenders and their allies," and described the company's efforts to stamp out this toxic culture as "empty promises," that fell short of real change.

If Ubisoft Singapore is found to be in breach of the Ministry of Manpower's Fair Consideration Framework, The Straits Times says it could be barred from applying for new work passes for foreign staff, and prevented from renewing existing ones, for up to two years.

Police will also investigate reports of sexual misconduct that include criminal offenses, and those found guilty could be fined, jailed, or, in some cases, caned.

Ubisoft Singapore responded to The Straits Times' report saying it had invested in a "dedicated learning path" to support Singaporeans and help staff take on leadership opportunities.

Long said the studio had hired a third-party agency to look into complaints, and reiterated that harassment, discrimination, or misconduct of any kind would not be tolerated. He also admitted the studio still had progress to make.

"I acknowledge that the studio has seen some challenges over the past decade and there is still work to be done about our studio culture."