Over the last few months, Anika Grant, Ubisoft’s Chief People Officer, and Raashi Sikka, VP Global Diversity, Inclusion & Accessibility, have been traveling to different Ubisoft studios throughout Europe to meet with teams, sharing their strategic roadmap for HR and Diversity, Inclusion & Accessibility (DIA) initiatives, and answering questions from team members. This roadshow will continue through the end of the year in Ubisoft’s North American and Asian studios.
In this interview, Anika and Raashi provide an update on Ubisoft’s roadmap, including how Ubisoft is investing in people policies and processes, continuing to build a safe and respectful workplace for all, and advancing diversity and inclusion across the board.
You’ve had a chance to meet with team members across Ubisoft’s worldwide studios in recent months. What has struck you the most from these visits?
Anika Grant: I’m always impressed by how different and unique each studio is, not just in their look and feel, but also in the games and technology they work on. Each studio brings their unique capabilities and expertise to Ubisoft. We have so many talented people doing amazing things - it’s a new discovery for me every time.
Raashi Sikka: I agree with Anika. Across our visits, we’ve seen people who care about their work, their colleagues, and Ubisoft, and are really looking towards the future. Teams are asking what they can continue to do to advance inclusion at Ubisoft; they’re sharing that they’re happy to see change and progress, but they’re also asking: “what’s next?” They want to do more, and they want us to do more. It’s energizing and motivating!
These local studio visits have been an opportunity to discuss what your HR and DIA teams have been focusing on over the last several months. Where have you made the most progress?
RS: Great question! A lot has been keeping us busy, I’ll share a few highlights.
Gender equality has been a priority at Ubisoft for a while now, both in terms of increasing the representation of women in the organization and supporting the development of women across different levels of leadership. Thanks to the great work of our talent acquisition teams and the investment of our HR leadership, women now represent 25% of our team members, up from 22% in 2020. A third of all hires over the last year were women. Additionally, we have 42% of women on our Executive committee and 45% of women on our board at Ubisoft.
Our efforts to better reach out to neurodiverse communities are evolving, too. Last year, in partnership with HR, we created a dedicated neurodiversity program. This program is designed to help us recruit and support more neurodiverse talents so that Ubisoft will become the standard for Neurodiverse inclusion at work in the coming years.
Our Global ERG leads meet with our CEO Yves Guillemot every quarter. This is a great forum for us to work together on areas of growth and progress, and for ERGs to share any potential concerns they have directly with Yves. I look forward to these quarterly meetings – great discussions happen there.
We launched Advancing Inclusion this year, our flagship diversity and inclusion training program for two key cohorts – top leadership and HR leadership. It’s an in-depth program with opportunities to learn key concepts, put theory into practice, and learn together and from each other.
Our team has been working alongside many of our dev teams on a variety of projects to continue to embed more inclusion and representation internally and in our games. Recently, we rolled out a pilot workshop in partnership with production for a dev team where we explored the often thin line between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation that teams are navigating. We’re excited to continue to build on this and roll out this workshop and many others more broadly in the months to come.
AG: It’s been such a busy year for the HR team – coming out of the pandemic, working to bring people safely back to the office while dealing with the impacts of the “Great Reshuffle” and the hugely competitive market for talent. Honestly, I can’t remember a harder time to be working as an HR professional and the HR team at Ubisoft has shown exceptional resilience. Over the past year, we’ve continued to prioritize the work on our roadmap to build a safe and inclusive place to work. For example, we’ve strengthened the Employee Relations (ER) team and now have a global function in place with experts in this field based in Canada, Singapore, and France – meaning we have people that understand the different ways of working and cultural nuances working hand in hand with local HR and managers. We also have better processes in place along with stronger case management, which means we are able to deal with issues faster. And we’re focusing on prevention by strengthening our global policies and Code of Conduct, with a new global mandatory training on harassment and discrimination. This type of training is really important as it contextualizes what’s acceptable and what’s not at Ubisoft. Going forward, the ER team will also work more proactively, using the data we have from different sources – like internal surveys – to partner with formal employee reps, the DIA teams, HR, and people managers to identify where we may have risks and intervene before issues emerge.
When it comes to the future of work, our global philosophy is anchored in enabling hybrid and flexible ways of working, and we’ve partnered with local leadership teams to develop policies that make sense for each location. It’s been really important that our approach was not a “one size fits all” but took into account the context of each local entity. We also very deliberately adopted a “test and learn” approach that allows us to assess the impact of our policies on teams’ engagement, our ability to attract and retain critical talent, overall productivity, and our ability to deliver quality games on time. We’ve learned a great deal this year – for example, we know it’s important that teams come together at the beginning of a production development cycle and typically also during the critical final stages, and that some tasks are more productive when conducted in person and that others can be done remotely.
I’m also proud of the work we’ve done listening to our employees via our new survey ecosystem. We’ve put in place a much more robust survey platform that provides external benchmarks and powerful analytics, helping us to drive insights and develop action plans at all levels of the organization. Employee feedback is also key to understanding where we are making progress and where we really need to continue to focus. Some of our big initiatives will be multi-year change programs, so it’s really important we get more robust at tracking key people metrics in order to show incremental progress through feedback from future surveys or from our diversity, turnover, or hiring data.
What are some of your key priorities for your respective teams in the next few months?
RS: We have several exciting key projects that are about to launch.
The first is our first-ever global self-identification program, where we will invite team members to share additional information voluntarily and confidentially about their identity, such as gender identity, race/ethnicity or disability. This information will help us to understand the experience of each person from a much more inclusive lens and allow us to take actions that truly support our colleagues.
We know we have room for growth when it comes to the representation of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity, both within Ubisoft and the gaming industry at large. With this in mind, we created a multi-year strategy called Project Rise to ensure that Ubisoft better reflects the diversity of our players, with a focus on racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. Over the course of the next five years, we will focus on three key areas: talent acquisition, internal talent development, and external talent pipeline development.
We know that different people experience life and the workplace differently – there are different opportunities and barriers that we all face. In the workplace, addressing barriers requires us to be specific, targeted, and focused in our actions. At Ubisoft, we will be focusing on four key dimensions: gender equality, race and ethnicity, LGBTQIA+ inclusion, and disability inclusion.
I would be remiss if I didn’t speak about our games, right? Over the past months, we’ve been working with the recently created Inclusive Games and Content team to build their roadmap focused on ensuring diversity and inclusion is at the heart of all our games. Thanks to our stellar accessibility team, we’re also continuing to work hard to make our games more accessible. Right now, the team is focused on bringing an “accessibility by design” approach that embeds accessibility in our games from the earliest stages of development and ensures that more players can get the full experience of our universes.
AG: We’re totally convinced that we can leverage tech to help us fine tune our Future of Work approach and create an environment where we not only get back to previous levels, but are even more productive. Over the coming months, we have two key focus areas: firstly, to work with our technology teams on designing a more efficient and seamless digital workplace; secondly, to double down on the support for hybrid and remote team management with more training, job aids, and best practice sharing. As an innovative and creative technology company I see this as a huge opportunity area for us – essentially, finding ways to leverage technology and work differently to do things better, faster, and healthier than we have before.
With talent retention being key in our highly competitive market we will continue to focus on strengthening our employee value proposition and securing key talents. And with global inflation continuing to rise, we’ll be closely monitoring the market and the impacts of inflation to ensure we remain competitive, using market data to keep our compensation planning targeted and effective. But we also know that there are other key factors that impact retention beyond salary. We know we have great talents, an unrivaled production capacity, great technology, and a strong commitment to fostering a creative environment. We also want to make sure we’re providing excellent career opportunities for our team members. So, this year, we're putting a special focus on internal mobility and looking to pilot an internal talent marketplace. Additionally, we're working on a strategic, longer-term project to ensure that we are better able to articulate jobs, skills and careers at Ubisoft. This work to redefine “the building blocks of talent” – our career architecture – will ensure everyone has clarity on how they can grow and progress in their careers.
Finally, we will continue to keep a close eye on gender pay equity. For Fiscal Year 2021-2022, we reduced the global gender pay gap from 1.7 to 1.3%. This is good progress, but we’re not done yet.
We feel proud of the progress we’ve made over the past two years, but we know there’s more to do. We’ll continue to strive to better listen, understand where changes are needed, and work to improve our people experience, ultimately ensuring a workplace where everyone can thrive.
Learn more about how Ubisoft is planting seeds for the future of diversity, accessibility, and inclusion and keep your eyes on the Ubisoft News hub for more from inside Ubisoft.