The video game industry’s serious HR shortcomings have come to light in recent years.
The latest game developer to come under fire for workplace misconduct is Bungie.
The company once renowned for the original Halo trilogy and the Destiny games is now in a dark shadow after interviews with 26 members of staff revealed a “boys’ club” culture, sexism, the protection of abusers, and harsh working conditions that forced overtime on employees.
One employee at Bungie told IGN that: “HR has never been there to protect employees. They’ve always been there to protect the company. I’ve watched it happen a few times at Bungie, where someone went to HR and things went completely sideways for them.”
In response, Bungie’s CEO Pete Parsons apologized: “Speaking with the team at Bungie, reading the stories, and seeing both known and newly surfaced accounts, it is clear we still have work ahead of us.”
The latest development has seen the head of HR Gayle d’Hondt step down from her position.
What has been said?
In an email sent to staff, which was obtained by IGN, d’Hondt said that she had done “everything in my power to make sure everyone who works here has a safe, welcoming, and supportive environment.” Additionally, she believes there need to be new HR professionals entering the company.
She noted: “I know that they [HR staff] need to be trusted to be your advocates – not labeled as ‘enablers’ or seen as company resources who provide bad actors with safe harbor.”
In terms of Bungie’s future, the former head of HR said that she “will work with Holly [Barbacovi, chief people officer] and the leadership team at Bungie to determine what the appropriate next steps are”. With this in mind, it appears that d’Hondt may stay on with Bungie in a different capacity.
There was also self-reflection in the email to employees, noting “deeply challenging interpersonal conflicts” including the termination of employees for “performance, bad behavior, and for discrimination, racism, and sexual harassment.”
d’Hondt also discussed the actions she took against her own abuser who was an executive within Bungie.
d’Hondt concluded: “I am proud of the work I did at this company. I believe I made recommendations that were in the best interest of our people and in service of the company we wish to become. I also believe we made some mistakes, and that to become the better version of ourselves – the company I know we can be – we have to acknowledge and confront them, in good faith, and grow together.”
Greater repercussions in the industry
On the back of Activision Blizzard’s scandal, Phil Spencer, head of Xbox told Bloomberg that he was “disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions” of the publisher. He went on to say that he is “evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and making ongoing proactive adjustments.”
With this in mind, the situation at Bungie may have a huge impact on the business’s future.
These instances serve as a clear reminder that HR professionals need to be accountable when workplaces become toxic. Otherwise, a businesses’ revenue, as well as the wellbeing of its employees, could be impacted.
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