In recent weeks, stories of harassment and discrimination have resurfaced at gaming companies.
On July 20, the California Department of Housing and Fair Employment filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for “violations of the state’s civil rights and equal pay laws” regarding its treatment of women.
Toxic workplace culture, of course, doesn’t just happen at AAA companies, with reports from the independent study Fullbright appearing in recent weeks.
Last week, we spoke with Online Gaming and Harassment Hotline Director Jae Lin about the ways companies can eradicate toxicity in the workplace and how gaming professionals at any level can Help stop discrimination and harassment.
In an episode of the GamesIndustry.biz podcast, Cinzia Musio, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor at Splash Damage, and Anisa Sanusi, D&I committee at Roll7 and founder of the Limit Break mentoring program, also discussed how the industry can stop the toxicity behind scene.
This article is adapted from this podcast. Here we will focus on the guidance they provided to the victims, but you can listen to the full episode on this page (or via the video included below) to get a much broader view on the topic and what companies and HR are doing. they can do to address. harassment and discrimination problems.
Put yourself first
“The most important thing when you are a victim is to put yourself and your mental well-being first, because talking about these things is incredibly difficult and it is something that will impact you,” Musio said when asked about which victims of harassment or discrimination can do.
Deciding to report the abuse to the authorities, whether in your company or in law enforcement, can be a very difficult time as you have to “relive that trauma,” Musio explained.
“So first and foremost, put yourself in a position where you are safe, where you can talk about these things in a way that doesn’t hurt you,” he continued. “That should be the priority. You don’t have to be brave. You don’t have to be the person taking the risk. It’s okay if you don’t have the mental energy to do that.”
Musio pointed out the importance of establishing a circle of support first so that you can talk about what happened, when and if it does.
“Make sure you have mental health support around you, that you have a circle of friends and family, if possible, who are really there for you,” she continued.
Sanusi pointed out that every situation is different and, of course, any reaction will be contextual to what happened. But finding mental health support is often a priority.
“Which means you have to find a safe place with a group of people that you can talk to,” he added. “Get some clarity on the situation and get feedback from people you trust.”
Consider talking to your D&I committee or HR if it’s a safe space.
Talking to HR is always a possibility, but not all companies are equipped or willing to deal with complaints of harassment and discrimination. If your company has a diversity and inclusion committee, it can also be a good structure to draw on.
“I know the advice people often get is, ‘Don’t talk to HR because they are protecting the company and not you,'” Sanusi said. “Some companies are like this, and it’s really terrible. I know some companies have outside HR, and the outside HR is a lot more impartial. They’re pretty neutral. They’re just trying to figure out what happened.
“It is very important that you write everything down. Names, locations, what happened”
“In my experience, external HR companies have been the best experience I’ve ever had, compared to internal HR. If you have a D&I committee, or a D&I person working with you, they are there to help as well. , because the D&I committee is made up of the workers themselves, a group of people who care about having these systems in place. If you are HR, make sure you are doing your research properly and that this message is conveyed to the employees. CEOs or COOs, so you can avoid the “I didn’t know this.” No, no, we’ve been telling you. Make sure there is an official way to keep track of things, save receipts and incidents , and it is written down, and it is not lost. Because if someone keeps complaining several times, and that information is not there, the history is not there, then that is just lost air. Why were we talking to you in the first place? gar? “
He added that when you get on your HR, be sure to write everything down yourself.
“This is what we mean by saving receipts,” he continued. “It’s extremely important that you write everything down. Names, locations, what happened. Even with your meeting with RR-ups after that.”
Seek outside support
If your company has not been on your side, you can search for reports or seek further support through a third party.
We recently published a list of resources for victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, which includes contacts who may be helpful in that regard.
“You can investigate the possibility of reporting things to outsiders, whether it is a union, for example, that will be there to support you with this kind of thing,” Musio said. “In the US, there’s the Gaming Harassment Hotline that’s really great for that. There are ways you can start to frame things and start moving the needle a little bit. worse things, you can investigate report it to the police. Again, [make] be sure to put yourself first and consider how that will affect your mental well-being as you do so. “
Sanusi agreed that unions were a good option. There are a few options on the UK side, be it Bectu or Game Workers Unite. Today, the US is less organized, but Game Workers Unite and Communication Workers of America partnered last year to ask video game employees to unionize with it. Campaign to organize digital employees.
“You can have a union [representative] with you at the company to be present at these meetings, “added Sanusi.” So let’s say it’s just you and one other person, and you’re extremely uncomfortable being alone, you can definitely have someone else in that meeting room with you, be it someone else from the same company, like a colleague you trust. [and] it could be there for you or a union representative. “
Know your rights
Sanusi and Musio stressed that the incident can be escalated to law enforcement if it is a serious enough infraction.
“But it is really important that you know what your rights are and if there is a system or process available to you,” continued Sanusi. “So if your company has an employee manual, [it’s] it’s a good time to flip through that again, to see if there’s a formal process that you can properly follow. Save your receipts.
“You need to know your rights and you need to have someone with you. You don’t need to do this alone.”
“Every company is different, indie, AAA, no matter the size. Each one of them will handle it differently. But you must know your rights and you must have someone with you. You don’t need to do this yourself.”
Musio added that reading about employment law can be an important step.
“The best defense you have as an employee is simply understanding what your local labor law is, where you will be protected, who will be on your side, etc.,” he said. “It is really important to understand what your rights are. Those are quite easily accessible in terms of finding things, and you will find a lot of places that will have simplified things to make it quite easy to understand where your rights are and what to do with it and where it will be protected. That will be key. “
Feel free to seek legal advice if you can. In the United Kingdom, LawWorks is a charity that provides free legal advice, for example. In the US, you can find help at Free legal answers from the American Bar Association website.
“The thing [is] if you don’t know what your rights are, if you don’t know what you can or cannot do legally, then you are at a disadvantage, “said Sanusi.” So a little homework, a little help to anyone who can provide legal advice, or again, union reps are great at this, with the labor laws.
“Consent, like everything else, can be withdrawn at any time”
“I think Activision Blizzard is literally the worst case scenario that could happen, where the state sues the company on behalf of a group of people, and that took two years. That’s two full years of them digging up past trauma and interviews, and this big news hitting the media, this is all traumatizing, and you’re bringing up old traumas again, so it’s hard.
“And obviously we don’t want that to happen, if possible, because I’d want to figure it out as quickly as possible. But again, whatever you see on the news is literally the worst case scenario. Hopefully, if you’re going through this It’s not that bad, and you have people. There are so many organizations out there who would like to help. You just have to look for them. “
Musio concluded this segment of the podcast with a very important aspect of the discussion.
“Consent, as with everything, can be withdrawn at any time,” he recalled. “If you’re going through this and you can’t keep talking about it, you can’t keep seeing it, just walk away from the situation. It’s completely up to you when you’re ready to talk about things, and you can withdraw from the situation at any time. it is something that should be abused. That is really important. You are the person in charge of that consent and you can walk away from it. “
During the podcast, Musio and Sanusi mentioned a wealth of resources and support networks, which we present here in alphabetical order:
- ACAS (a UK public body offering advice on employment rights)
- Citizen advice (a network of independent UK based charities providing confidential advice on a wide variety of topics)
- Code Coven (an online boot camp to help marginalized genre developers advance their careers)
- Limit (a mentoring program for people from underrepresented backgrounds)
- Making games (an industrial network for the LGBTQ + community)
- Pixall (a collection of resources on inclusion)
- POC at stake (an advocacy group that aims to increase the visibility and representation of people of color in the games industry)
- Safe in our world (a charity that aims to raise awareness and offer support to anyone with mental health issues at games)
- Take this (a mental health advocacy organization that provides support and resources)
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