February 7, 2022

8 Min Read

inside ubisoftbipoc

Employee Resource Group Spotlight: Black Employees At Ubisoft

Ubisoft is committed to building a more welcoming and part of that commitment is ensuring that employees eel a sense of belonging. Employee resource groups (ERGs) play a key role in that commitment. These groups, led by employees and supported by Ubisoft, offer a variety of programming that ranges from professional development to community events. One such employee resource group is Black Employees at Ubisoft (B.E.A.U.). Director of Partner Marketing Temi Lane, along with Senior Director of Supply Chain Management Josiane Valverde and Office Manager Felesha Anderson, founded B.E.A.U. in 2020. Lane sat down with us to tell the story of how B.E.A.U. came to be, how it best serves its members, and how the ERG benefits Ubisoft as a whole.

[UN] [UN] Employee Resource Group Spotlight: Black Employees At Ubisoft - Profile

Can you tell us exactly what B.E.A.U. is and how it got started?

Temi Lane: B.E.A.U. stands for Black Employees at Ubisoft and it is a global
employee resource group. When I joined Ubisoft in July of 2020, it was right
after the racial awakening that happened after George Floyd’s killing and I was
looking to make connections with other Black employees. I naively asked around
“Hey, where’s the Black ERG? I’d love to join especially as a remote employee,”
and realized we didn’t have any.

So on August 26, 2020, I set up an informal listening session with about 12
Black employees that I had met and it was a really raw but transformative
discussion where we realized we were experiencing a lot of really heavy things
and unsure how to process it at work. Josiane and Felesha joined me to form a
US-based connection group soon after. We started meeting twice a month and
realized it was a great opportunity for us to come together and talk in a safe
space.

Soon after we formed, we started to expand our network globally. I was connected
with Leon Winkler in Amsterdam and Kurston Timothy in Toronto who started the
Black Game Pros (BGP) mixer at E3 in 2019. BGP is focused on bringing together
Black professionals in the gaming industry and has hosted several in person and
virtual mixers for Black professionals both inside and outside Ubisoft. We
realized there were similarities in what we were doing and we formed the basis
for what is now a Global ERG.

You joined Ubisoft in July 2020 and started an ERG one month later. Leading
the organization takes significant time and energy and isn’t part of your job
description. Why is it something you wanted to do?

TL: I’ve always found it important to build community with the people I work
with but sometimes as an underrepresented professional creating a feeling of
belonging is difficult, especially in a remote working environment. For me, I’ve
spent so much time doing ERG work because I’m passionate about the higher order
purpose of the group. B.E.A.U. is not only about building community, it’s also
about helping to give a voice to the Black professionals at Ubisoft and driving
change. I would love to be able to come into a company like Ubisoft and see more
people who look like me and working on this ERG is one way to be the change I
want to see.

What sort of programming has B.E.A.U. organized for members, what kind of
outreach has there been, and where is that going in the future?

TL: We started with building that affinity and connection with one another;
we meet twice a month and we just get together to see what people are going
through, how their career is going, or any challenges or hurdles they have in
their professional lives. We also try to have fun but we’ve had to get creative
with everyone working remotely. We had a live “Coming 2 America” watch party and
sent everybody a gift card for their meal. It was amazing to be in a community
with each other, have some laughs, and break bread virtually.

When thinking about the programming we’ve done so far, we focus on cultural
education and awareness. For Black History Month last year, we brought a
diversity consultant, Dr. Ella
Washington
to do
an overview of Black History Month and why D&I is important. We also had a
Juneteenth event with Tyree Boyd-Pates, a museum
curator and historian to educate the company on the importance of the holiday.

Outside of Ubisoft, we have formed a community partnership with SF
Achievers
. They are a nonprofit that supports
African-American young men in San Francisco Unified School through college
scholarships, leadership training and mentoring. We have had several of our ERG
members speak about working in the videogame industry to show representation of
Black professionals in the industry. We’ve also partnered with allies at Ubisoft
via our internal Anti-Racism Marketing Committee to volunteer their time to
provide consultation on their website and social media presence.

Holistically speaking, what role do you see ERGs having at a company like
Ubisoft? Why are they important things for companies to implement?

TL: From an HR perspective, having ERGs helps build a sense of belonging at
a company for underrepresented groups, and building this belonging helps people
feel included, which can help with retention. From a marketing perspective, I
believe more diverse decision makers at a company lead to more culturally
relevant activations. Often times, sub-cultures drive mainstream culture and can
help brands remain innovative.

What was Ubisoft’s initial reaction to the founding of the ERG, and what sort
of support has the company given you since that time?

TL: I’ve been impressed with how supportive the organization has been of us
organically doing our own thing. We were very fortunate that any time there was
a question of if we wanted to bring in a speaker or consultant or have resources
to do a social event – even though the structures and processes weren’t in place
– Ubisoft’s answer was always “whatever you need.” Now, with the emergence of a
formal structure and organization, we hope that more of the structural changes
can be tackled by the D&I professionals that are joining the company. I’ve
continued to see nothing but strong support from professionals on the D&I team,
as well as from the broader Ubisoft group.

What motivates you when you’re coming up with programming or resources?

TL: Seeing Black people win. Period. I don’t do this work just to benefit
Ubisoft’s Diversity & Inclusion goals but to celebrate every time one of our
members gets a promotion or press coverage for their work! Also, as a marketer
at heart, I’m always curious about how to engage our members and find resources
that benefit their growth. It’s been challenging and fun to do that insight work
to understand the value proposition of B.E.A.U. to our members and come up with
programming that suits their wants and needs.

Now that you’re a year and a half into this process, is there any advice you
would give to someone out there at another company who’s looking to start a
Black employee resource group?

TL: Definitely. It’s not something that can be done alone, so find other
Black colleagues or professionals that can roll up their sleeves to get
involved. It is a lot of additional work outside of the day-to-day, so it’s even
more important to have that support and the resources to do that. It is also
important to have strong executive sponsors – folks in leadership positions with
influence who can help drive visibility and exposure to your group, and
hopefully break down barriers. For example, before B.E.A.U. even officially
formed, there were tough emotions people were having around the George Floyd
killing and not knowing how that was going to be addressed at Ubisoft. We shared
that with the leader of an internal group, the Anti-Racism Marketing Committee,
[Michael] Beadle, and he jumped into action. Beadle was our executive advocate
who helped us to connect with Yves, who made sure we had access to more
resources moving forward. Those are the types of allies that are really
important to any of this work, so we really love and appreciate the allies that
we have.

What are your long-term goals for B.E.A.U.?

TL: Right now, we have chapters in the U.S., France and Montreal and we hope
to continue to expand to more chapters globally. Today we have a global call
once a month to connect across different locations, and it’s been great to learn
about our cultural similarities and differences. We are working on a unified
logo, a website, and a shared mission and value statement across our group.

Another big goal for our ERG is to improve representation of Black employees
working in both the publishing and studio teams. We want to continue working
with HR and business leaders to find ways to recruit, retain and promote Black
talent at all levels, especially in leadership roles. Ultimately, if our mission
is to enrich player’s lives then what better way to do that than to create a
workplace that reflects the cultural diversity of our player base?

Be sure to check back into Inside
Ubisoft
for more ERG
Spotlights in the future.

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