A year after sexism report rocked Riot Games, studio says it's made 'significant strides'

(Image credit: Riot Games)

After a detailed Kotaku report last year highlighted serious issues of sexism and harassment at League of Legends developer Riot Games, the studio hired a chief diversity officer, Angela Roseboro, to help it improve its workplace culture. On Tuesday Roseboro published a post on Riot's website outlining the studio's progress so far, stating that "My goal was to not only create a true 'North Star' or vision that would provide an anchor for our diversity and inclusion work, but I also wanted to have a solid foundation for a multi-year roadmap with tangible actions, accountability, and measures to monitor our progress."

Roseboro added that "it was clear that the last six months had taken their toll" at Riot, leading to divisive conversations and high tensions. "But even in the midst of all of this, Rioters never lost their love for this company and they wanted (demanded) us to be better," she wrote.

Roseboro listed many of the actions Riot has taken over the past year to address diversity and culture, including hiring Emily Winkle as chief people officer, Frances Frei as a diversity and inclusion adviser, and Youngme Moon as a member of the board of directors heading a committee "solely for holding Riot accountable on D&I." With those and other hires, the executive leadership team is now 28 percent women and 45 percent minorities.

Without getting into specifics, Roseboro wrote that Riot has "implemented a process to review all job postings to ensure we have the most inclusive language possible to attract diverse applicant pools," made interview training mandatory for hiring managers, and created a diversity initiative to include more minorities at "director level and above."

While Roseboro's post doesn't mention any of the sexual harassment allegations brought up in Kotaku's 2018 report, it does say that Riot has updated its Code of Conduct and company with input from employees. A recently completed list of 30/60/90 day goals for the diversity and inclusion team also references a "behavioral boot camp" for the Riot leadership. 

It's noteworthy that one of the high profile figures in Kotaku's reporting last year, COO Scott Gelb, was given a two month suspension but remains at the company. At the time, employees criticized the wrist-slap punishment for an executive who had farted on or humped employees as a joke.

(Image credit: Riot Games)

As recently as this May, Rioters staged a walkout over forced arbitration (which the company has said it would let incoming employees opt out of, once the existing suits were resolved). At the time, some employees who participated in the walkout expressed frustration that little had been done to change the company's cultural issues.

"So far I haven’t seen a single outcome of our diversity and inclusion efforts at Riot. I haven’t seen a single metric or number to indicate things have improved and I haven’t seen a single project get finished," the employee told Kotaku. A California investigation into fair pay and gender discrimination is also ongoing.

Now three months later, Riot has concluded its initial 90 day plan to address those issues, spearheaded by Roseboro. Her plans for Riot moving forward include "putting actions and measures in place that hold leaders accountable for results," "creating and implementing strategies to increase representation of women and under-represented minorities," and "ensuring that diversity practices are embedded in all people processes."

The post does not include comments from any Riot employees other than Roseboro, nor has it been posted on Riot's social media channels. Until employees weigh in, we can't say whether they view the company's past three months of diversity work as positively as its chief diversity officer.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).