Riot Games is investigating extensive internal sexism and misogyny at the company following a Kotaku report earlier this month. The developer is already taking action against specific complaints, which will require the removal of several employees.
The League of Legends developer posted an update to the Riot Games website outlining the company’s “first steps forward” following the report. “For the past three weeks, we’ve been focused on listening and learning,” a Riot spokesperson wrote. “As a company, we’re used to patching problems ASAP, but this patch will not happen overnight. We will weave this change into our cultural DNA and leave no room for sexism or misogyny.”
On Aug. 7, Kotaku published a report on Riot’s “culture of sexism.” The 8,000-word piece includes reports from 28 current and former employees. Both men and women at the company discussed sexual harassment, discriminatory hiring practices, and rampant toxicity. Following the report, many more current and former employees spoke out about the “bro culture” that Riot supported, echoing and expanding on the Kotaku report. Former product management director Barry Hawkins is the latest Riot employee to speak out about the company’s culture. Hawkins wrote an extensive account of why he left the company, which included a rape joke made in Riot’s recruiting material.
Riot addressed the employees it failed in the Aug. 29 letter, apologizing for the mistakes it made in the past, before moving on to the work it needs to do to rebuild the company culture.
“Rioters have told us that the steps we have taken thus far aren’t enough, and we agree,” a Riot spokesperson said in the statement. “The issues we face are serious, and to drive this change, we need to fully understand the root of the issues. This transformation is going to be the source of our future strength as a company. To get there, we need to evolve our culture, while preserving the good things that we think make Riot special.”
Steps include “expanding the Culture and D&I [Diversity and Inclusion] Initiative, revisiting cultural definitions, third-party evaluation, investigation process, reevaluating recruiting, trainings, and staffing up for D&I,” according to the document.
Riot said it’s set up a hotline where anyone can anonymously reach out about company issues and submit complaints. The internal team that handles these complaints has been expanded, “brought in from an outside law firm to assess” Riot policies. The League of Legends developer also said it’s willing to make “big changes.”
“No one and nothing is sacred,” a Riot spokesperson wrote. “We are prepared to make big changes and have begun taking action against specific cases, including removal of Rioters, though we aren’t likely to get into those details publicly on a case-by-case basis for legal and privacy reasons.”