Riot Games declare new company values, continue to miss the point

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Riot Games have unveiled a new set of company values, intending to look forward to a bright and friendly future following last year’s public dissection of their garbage workplace culture of harrassment and exclusion. The League Of Legends developers say the manifesto they wrote in 2012 “served us well for many years, but didn’t evolve along with us.” What they continue to miss is that their company values–the actual values their company fostered and hushed protestations against, rather than any values they might claim to have–did not serve all people well, only those who thrived in that environment. Rewriting a webpage doesn’t mean anything when their actions demonstrate they’re unwilling to make big changes.

“In 2012 we wrote our manifesto: a statement of who we believed we were as a young company still at the beginning of its journey,” Riot say on their updated company values page (here’s August 2018’s for comparison). “It served us well for many years, but didn’t evolve along with us. Today, we need values that represent who we want to be for our next chapter.”

That manifesto, which included flashy sentiments like “challenge convention” and “stay hungry; stay humble”, did not serve them well for many years.

Women who suffered sleaze, who were excluded, and who felt their careers hindered by the “bro culture” did not find the values served them. Nor did the company values serve men who had their genitals hit by co-workers (it’s just banter, yeah?).

It has not become unacceptable for men to (allegedly) send colleagues unsolicited photos of their genitals only in the past six years. It was not previously acceptable for men to (allegedly) rate the fuckability of female colleagues in e-mails they could see. It has not suddenly become unacceptable for senior staff to (allegedly) fart in their male subordinates’ faces or dry-hump them during meetings, nor whack their testicles. And these are only a handful of the behaviours various Riot employees were accused of.

One figure accused of sackwhacking, facefarts, and cockthrusts was chief operating officer Scot Gelb. Without confirming exactly what he had done, Riot reportedly punished him with two months of unpaid suspension and mandatory training. A slap on the wrist for one of their most senior employees and a figurehead for the garbage culture they claim they’re done with.

That’s far less than the consequences for the now-former employee who got rude and sweary with people on Twitter while defending Riot’s PAX West panel which, at short notice, excluded male audience members in the name of encouraging diversity.

“Our leaders will live the values and actively promote them within their teams” my arse.

When Riot say the 2012 manifesto served them well, they mean in the sense that the company hadn’t suffered a public scandal. Their actions demonstrate that they continue to see this as a PR problem, not an HR problem.

“We humbly encourage, seek, and accept feedback” said their old manifesto. By many accounts, that was untrue. So why should it mean anything that the manifesto now says things like “We approach every interaction with empathy, sincerity, and respect”?

Manifestos and lists of values are all good and well as ways to visualise what you want to become but without actions supporting them, they’re just words on a website. And as I demonstrate every day, any bastard charlatan can write those.

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