Riot hires former Uber executive to help improve workplace culture

As part of its much-publicized effort to reshape its internal culture in the wake of accusations of pervasive sexism, harassment, and discrimination at the studio, League of Legends developer Riot Games has hired Frances Frei, Uber's former senior vice president of leadership and strategy, as a senior advisor to the company's senior executives and "cultural strike team." Riot said that Frei has been meeting regularly with the president, CEO, COO, and co-founders over the past few weeks, and that she'll "get to know Rioters from around the world through educational and working sessions" over the coming months. 

"After spending time with Riot’s leadership and many others across the organization, it became clear that Riot is truly putting everything on the table and committing to evolving its culture. In my interactions with Rioters, I’ve seen extraordinary levels of engagement on these issues across the company," Frei said in a statement

"Every Rioter with whom I’ve met truly cares about inclusion, which means real change is possible. Riot isn’t interested simply in fixing problems on the surface, it has the ambition to be an industry leader and to provide a roadmap for others to follow. I share that ambition and am eager to help Riot navigate this process." 

Riot lauded Frei's ability to help companies "evolve and navigate change," but she acknowledged in an April 2018 TED Conference (via Recode) that her brief tenure with the company (she joined Uber in 2017 but stepped down from her SVP position less than one year later, in February 2018) had limited success: She was able to convince employees to turn off their phones during meetings and encouraged "executive coaching" that helped make over-promoted managers better at their jobs, but came up short in her efforts to bring about "authenticity."

"It is still much easier to coach people to fit in," she said. "It is still much easier to reward people when they say something that you were going to say as opposed to rewarding people when they say something entirely different." 

That's a pretty succinct summation of the fit-in-or-get-out culture at Riot that Frei has been brought in to change, and so the fact that it remains an unaddressed problem at Uber is bound to raise some eyebrows.

In August, Riot committed to a list of seven steps toward changing its culture, including expanding its investigation processes, more training, increased staffing for its Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, and "reevaluating the language of Riot."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.