LGBTQIA+ Pride Month is a time to celebrate and express joy in the queer community, to recognize the contributions of LGBTQIA+ people to our society and culture, and to mark the progress we've made toward a more inclusive society. But it's more than that - it's also a call to action, to the community and its allies to continue fighting for equality and advocating for a world where everyone can be their authentic self.
When it came to selecting the theme for this year's Pride celebration at Ubisoft, this call to action was at the heart of the discussion. UbiProud, Ubisoft's global LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group (ERG), recruited a task force of volunteer members to identify the theme that would act as the foundation for the company's celebrations. "Solidarity as a theme was obvious for us," said Antoine Gay, UbiProud Global Co-Lead. "Solidarity from within, as no one can pretend to have a full experience of the queer rainbow. We are allies to each other and we can support and advocate for our queer peers. Solidarity from outside too, from our support network of family, friends, colleagues, and people who genuinely believe that queer rights are human rights. These allies' help is paramount to increasing queer inclusion, both within our company and in society as a whole."
The group settled on "Together in Pride: we're here, we're queer, all throughout the year," a theme that encapsulates that notion of inter- and intracommunity solidarity, while also encouraging us to think beyond the month of June. It is a strong statement that serves as the basis for Ubisoft's global strategy when it comes to LGBTQIA+ inclusion.
Ubisoft's Three-Year LGBTQIA+ Roadmap
In order to act on its commitment to LGBTQIA+ team members and players, Ubisoft has kicked off a three-year plan to create a corporate culture where inclusion is not just deeply rooted in the ways teams work and interact, but also in the way games are created. It is a multidimensional strategy, with a focus on HR policies and processes, training and awareness, support for internal LGBTQIA+ communities, representation in games, and adaptation of work environments.
For Céline Parsoud, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, a humble approach to the topic is key. "It's a three-year roadmap to help us reach our ambitious goals for a more diverse and inclusive company in the long-term," said Parsoud. "As we deploy it both locally and globally, we know we will need to engage with local teams to adapt and implement it, so in that way, we're being really intentional about iterating and learning along the way."
In February, Ubisoft reaffirmed its commitment and kicked off its three-year plan by signing the L'Autre Cercle LGBTQIA+ Charter. L'Autre Cercle is the leading organization in France on the issues of diversity and inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in the workplace. Created for and by companies, L'Autre Cercle's LGBTQIA+ Charter of Commitment provides a formal framework for inclusion and discrimination policies in work environments. Signed by CEO Yves Guillemot, the charter acts as a strong commitment to acting on Ubisoft's strategy.
What does this strategy entail? The Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility team and Human Resources teams across all Ubisoft entities will work to update existing policies and develop new policies to improve the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ employees in the company. This will include, for example, improving support for people in transition, moving toward more inclusive office space and facilities, or updating onboarding and induction processes to reflect the strong commitment to LGBTQIA+ inclusion with new employees. The UbiProud ERG also has a key role to play, creating a safe space for queer employees to meet and discuss their experiences, and acting as a key partner for DIA and HR. But as an entertainment leader, Ubisoft knows that the commitment needs to extend beyond the workplace to games as well. For that, Parsoud has been teaming up with Maya Loréal, Senior Manager of the Inclusive Games and Content Team.
Focus on Queer Representation in Games
Ubisoft's teams are no strangers to designing queer characters. For example, to create Osa, the first transgender operator in Rainbow Six Siege, the team worked with several trans consultants to ensure that the character's appearance and narrative would resonate with the community. Loréal applauds these efforts, but she knows that the company can do more. "I think we absolutely need to have an integrated production process where we are able to actually tackle the topic of representation early on," she said.
As the Inclusive Games and Content Team works to accompany production teams, helping them identify opportunities to tell inclusive stories at the beginning stages of production, they are reflecting in particular on how to provide frameworks and best practices for authentic queer representation. For instance, Loréal and her team have built a resource that helps production teams make more inclusive character creators for games that do not label physical traits or link voices to particular bodies, and they help production teams connect with experts who are cultural insiders from the LGBTQIA+ community.
Loréal is particularly excited about a brand-new collaboration with expert Professor Adrienne Shaw, an Associate Professor in Temple University's Department of Media Studies and Production, a Member of GLAAD's Gaming Advisory Council, and author of Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture. With Shaw's insights, the Inclusive Games and Content Team hopes to build out their resources for developers even more, with a particular emphasis on showing diverse queer representation, experiences, and identities that are not limited to one character. As part of this collaboration, Professor Shaw has worked with Loréal and the Inclusive Games and Content team on producing valuable internal resources, such as a video discussing positive representation of LGBTQIA+ characters in Ubisoft's games, and a Q&A session where Ubisoft team members were able to ask their questions on strategies for better representation and Professor Shaw responded with actionable recommendations.
"We are planting the seeds right now, hoping to make a difference in the future," said Loréal.
Celebrating Together at Ubisoft
As the company lays the foundation for a more inclusive work environment and video game industry for LGBTQIA+ communities, teams across Ubisoft are partnering with their local UbiProud chapters to celebrate Pride. From a Pride Bazaar at Massive Entertainment, where all profits will benefit local LGBTQIA+ non-profits, to ERG mixers at Ubisoft Toronto, to a family Pride festival in France, team members around the world are raising awareness and shining a spotlight on the queer community. By making LGBTQIA+ team members and players more visible, and by working to support queer folks at the company and beyond, Ubisoft reaffirms its commitment to inclusion - not just this month, but all year long.