28 January 2022

12 Min Read

inside ubisoft

Getting To Know Ubisoft’s Directors of Diversity and Inclusion

As part of Ubisoft’s commitment to creating a more inclusive and welcoming workplace, VP of Diversity and Inclusion, Raashi Sikka has begun to build her team of diversity, equity, and inclusion experts. Three of those team members include the newly appointed directors of diversity and inclusion across the US, Canada, and Europe, the Middle East, and Asia (EMEA). Erin Roach, Raphaëlle Lalo, and Michael Streffery are the new directors of D&I in Canada, EMEA and Asia, and the US respectively. We spoke with each of them to learn a bit more about their roles, passions and perspectives.

[UN] Getting To Know Ubisoft’s Directors of Diversity and Inclusion - Erin Roach

What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you, and why is it important for Ubisoft?

Erin Roach: To me, diversity is about representing a wide range of lived experiences and perspectives. Inclusion is about creating spaces where all of these lived experiences and perspectives are valued, voices are heard, and contribute to decision making. Equity is about fairness and making sure that every individual has access to the same opportunities and treatment, and removing barriers where they exist.

As a company built on creativity, innovation, and passion, diversity, equity, and inclusion are core to Ubisoft’s success. Diversity is a key driver of creativity and innovation, but only when individuals feel comfortable and safe bringing their unique perspectives and experiences to the table. Equity is critical for ensuring that the many talented individuals at Ubisoft have access to pathways for growth and can see their future here at Ubisoft.

What led you to pursue a career in diversity and inclusion?

ER: My passion for diversity and inclusion took root during my studies, where I focused on critical studies of language, power, gender, race, sexuality, and migration. It grew during my early career when I was working with newcomers in Montreal and seeing their incredible potential being undervalued and the impact this had on themselves and those around them, and through my own experiences as a single mother, who identifies as queer and living with invisible disabilities, facing barriers to inclusion and belonging at work. I decided to dedicate my career to working with organizations to promote the value of diversity and inclusion – not just because it's the right thing to do, but because I know that it's our competitive advantage – and to help them to develop and embed diversity and inclusion strategies into their business strategies.

What brought you to Ubisoft? Why did you want to start working here?

ER: I was drawn to the videogame industry by what I see as the critical role that it plays in shaping culture and society. The narratives and perspectives that we see in games shape our thoughts and behaviors and give us the opportunity to explore worlds and engage with players and experiences that push us outside of our echo-chambers. They can help us build empathy and bridge social gaps across cultures, abilities, gender, age, sexual orientation, and other identities.

I came to Ubisoft specifically, because I see an opportunity for Ubisoft’s leadership in establishing a future of gaming and technology that is inclusive. I think that it has both the motivation as a company – across all levels, which is incredibly important, and has established a strong foundation and the necessary support for a successful diversity and inclusion strategy.

How would you describe your personal approach or philosophy when it comes to D&I?

ER: In my previous role, I was the Executive Director of the Diversity Institute at X University (renaming in process), an action-oriented research center located in the entrepreneurship and innovation department of a business school and most of our work was in close collaboration with industry, community, and government partners. So, I bring a data-driven, evidence-based and collaborative lens to the work that I do. My approach is also holistic, in that I see diversity and inclusion as a lens that should be applied across policies, processes and practices whether you’re in production, human resources, or communications. Finally, I am a big believer in taking risks and leveraging technology, innovation, and creativity in accelerating change as long as we're tracking what works, or doesn’t, and why, and continuing to learn and grow together as an organization.

Can you tell us about one of your priorities for 2022?

ER: In 2022, I will continue to collaborate across the Canadian studios on a diversity and inclusion vision that will be reflected in our programs, policies, and processes. We are also exploring the development of a self-identification process so employees can voluntarily share information about their identity and demographics that will help us get a more accurate picture of the diversity of our workforce. This will help us make our programs more inclusive and provide better support to employees with different needs and it’s a project I’m excited to lead.

[UN] Getting To Know Ubisoft’s Directors of Diversity and Inclusion - Raphaelle Lalo

What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you and why is it important for Ubisoft?

Raphaëlle Lalo: Diversity is asking, “Who is in the room?” Inclusion is asking, “Are all the voices and ideas in the room being heard?” Equity is asking, “Who would like to enter this room but cannot? Who in the room faces the constant threat of being silenced?” and making sure that we are intentional in addressing those barriers.

We have many rooms at Ubisoft, physical and metaphorical, and we work in a creative and innovative industry. We should do our best to connect all those rooms, fill them with vibrant energy and ideas, and give everyone a chance to contribute. We have the power to harness all that energy and channel it into building diverse and inclusive games and teams.

What led you to pursue a career in diversity and inclusion?

RL: From an early age, I have had firsthand experience of what it means to be different, to have to deal with rules and systems that were built for the majority and not for you. I know the toll that it takes on an individual to adapt, to try to fit into an environment that – at best – was not built to help you reach your full potential, and worst-case scenario, may well end up being designed to work against you. Throughout my career, I have been looking for ways to bridge that gap and create environments that work for people and not the reverse!

What brought you to Ubisoft? Why did you want to start working here?

RL: The people and the possibilities. I met with people who wanted to make a difference and who were passionate about their company and what they did. I saw the potential to build something new and impactful: working on diversity and inclusion topics in an industry that still has tremendous opportunities to progress and a role to play in shaping mainstream culture into something more diverse and inclusive. The fact that I am a gamer and a literature student who initially thought I would never get the opportunity to work in videogames is the icing on the cake!

How would you describe your personal approach or philosophy when it comes to D&I?

RL: First: Listen to all voices and do not project your own assumptions and fears onto other people. There is always something to learn and understand from apparent disagreement. Second: Build relationships of trust with people and make connections between different networks of people. D&I is an endless journey, and it takes time to change mindsets and organizations. Third: Make a conscious effort to meet people where they are and to co-build together. I live for those moments when suddenly, after months of efforts and building trust, you see teams, leaders, and colleagues develop inclusive reflexes and insights, and strategies that I had not even thought about!

Can you tell us about one of your priorities for 2022?

RL: It is difficult to pick one! First, I would say making sure we build the best possible D&I team: a strong, international team will help us build a solid foundation for the work we’re doing across all our studios and offices.

Another priority is to create fruitful, long-term partnerships with our leaders and HR teams across the world to support their D&I strategies. It is both daunting and exciting to work with so many different teams across Europe, Middle East, and Asia, and every day feels like I’m going on a world tour! I believe there will be a wealth of synergies to create with the initiatives Erin and Michael drive in their respective scopes.

I also wish to encourage as many Ubisoft team members as I can to begin their own learning journey when it comes to D&I, whether that’s by starting conversations among those with differing perspectives, attending an internal conference or training, joining an ERG, or exploring some of the educational resources we now have available. Last but not least, I will be helping lead our team’s efforts to upskill all stakeholders within the organization, including our Leaders and HR teams, on a variety of D&I topics.

[UN] Getting To Know Ubisoft’s Directors of Diversity and Inclusion - Michael Streffery

What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you and why is it important for Ubisoft?

Michael Streffery: To me, diversity is who we are, inclusion is what we do, belonging is how we feel, and equity is when we are valued. It’s important to Ubisoft because our leaders and team members genuinely care about each other. Our North Star and guiding light is to become the most inclusive, equitable, and diverse entertainment and tech company where our differences are valued and celebrated, diversity is leveraged as a strength, and inclusion and inclusive actions are part of who we are.

What led you to pursue a career in diversity and inclusion?

MS: I have always been passionate about being a voice for those who may not feel they have one, and to me this is more than a career but a calling. Diversity is part of who we all are, and we are all more than the sum of our parts. I am a gay, Latino man who is also a proud papa to two amazing Black and Brown sons. I am a loving husband, son, brother, and a foster parent. And as we continue to peel back the onion we can start to see how our differences actually bring us closer together. Having a career where I can bring different people together to achieve great things to make the world better and interesting is a dream come true.

What brought you to Ubisoft? Why did you want to start working here?

MS: Simply put, I love diversity and inclusion, and I love videogames. It’s a match made in heaven! As I went through the interview process, I got to meet some wonderful people who made me excited to join the Ubisoft experience. One thing that really left an impression on me was the dedication and ambition Yves [Guillemot] and Raashi [Sikka] have about making Ubisoft the best in class at diversity and inclusion in the videogame industry. Now that I am part of the team, I am fueled each day by the team members who have so much passion for creating a culture of belonging for everyone - both for our employees and our players. Finally, I now feel pretty cool being able to tell my sons that I work for Ubisoft.

How would you describe your personal approach or philosophy when it comes to D&I?

MS: I love to start at the beginning with the end in mind, and like to ask myself where would we like to see ourselves five years from now and why? By being methodical and strategic we can start to plan out our pathway year-by-year with a roadmap that can be communicated effectively to everyone. I have found success in this approach because it creates an inclusive journey for everyone to be a part of together.

Can you tell us about one of your priorities for 2022?

MS: I am honored and privileged to be able to work with this new and talented D&I team as well as all of the incredible people I’ve met across the company. My role is a new role at Ubisoft, so I’m working with our senior leaders on the Global Publishing and Direct-to Player teams to understand our current gaps and opportunities with the goal of creating new strategies that will enhance our workplace culture through diversity and inclusion. I’ve hit the ground running further developing our Employee Resource Groups, working with our Talent & Acquisition team to enhance our inclusive sourcing, recruiting, hiring processes, and developing methodologies to track our progress so we can continue to evolve as an inclusive organization where we can all feel a sense of belonging and value.

To learn more about Ubisoft’s ongoing commitment to workplace culture, be sure to check out Inside Ubisoft.