Riot Games outlined new changes to its internal culture following damning accusations that the company fostered a climate of widespread sexism and misogyny. Riot announced a series of steps to combat this internal culture and issued a public apology for its past failures.
A report from Kotaku's Cecilia D'Anastasio detailed multiple instances in which women were harassed or devalued at Riot, and painted an overall picture that Riot was a hostile work environment to anyone that didn't fit with its narrowly defined, male-dominated "gamer" culture. Following the report, many former Riot employees took to Twitter and personal blogs to share their own stories about the harassment they faced or witnessed while at Riot, oftentimes leading to them departing the company.
In response, Riot published a new blog post with both an apology and seven steps towards internal reform. Riot calls its internal culture change a "top priority" and says "no one and nothing is sacred" when it comes to making changes, and that Riot is removing employees in the process.
"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."
You can read Riot's blog post for a full outline of how it will change its internal culture, but Riot divides its first phase into seven steps: Expanding the Culture and Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Initiative, Revisiting Cultural Definitions, Third-Party Evaluation, Investigation Process, Reevaluating Recruiting, Trainings, and Staffing up for D&I.
In short, Riot is expanding D&I with a new team that will "lead" Riot's "cultural evolution" and will work at every level of company and report directly to the CEO. Riot also hired two third-party consultants to evaluate Riot's culture and work on new practices to put into place at the company.
Riot will also re-evaluate language in its company manifesto like "gamer" and "meritocracy" which was language Riot employees cited as exclusionary and used to discriminate against employees or prospective employees that didn't fit with Riot's definition. Recruiting will also be revamped to make the system more open to previously overlooked demographic groups and expanding which universities to hire from.
Training will be expanded to all employees and include interview training, anti-harassment training, and anti-bias training. Meanwhile Riot continues to investigate harassment claims, admitting that it has removed employees because of their investigation. Riot also set up a new internal team to investigate new claims and set up an anonymous hotline to report instances of harassment. Lastly Riot is hiring a new Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Diversity Officer who will join the executive leadership team. The Leadership Team at Riot consists of 23 key executives, of which 21 of them are men. Even if both of Riot's new hires are women, it will still be a team where most members are men.
Riot's apology that prefaced their new initiative is particularly interesting in its language. Riot apologizes to past and present employees and contractors admitting that Riot wasn't "the place we promised you" and hot "it took so long" for Riot to respond. Riot also issues an apology to prospective candidates who maybe have doubts about applying to Riot as well as business partners who are worried about working with Riot due to the company's culture and future.
The Kotaku report clearly affected Riot in a way that impacted all areas of business, enough so that Riot issued apologies even to prospective employees and business partners. Whether or not Riot can effectively issue these changes across all levels of its 3,000-plus employees remains to be seen. Meanwhile, new stories from ex-Rioters continue to come out in wake of the report.