Arkham and Suicide Squad studio Rocksteady has issued a formal statement in response to allegations that it did not adequately address complaints of harassment and abusive behavior (opens in new tab) when they were made in 2018. The complaints came to light earlier this week when a copy of the complaint letter, which had been signed by ten of the company's 16 women employed at Rocksteady at the time, was leaked to the Guardian (opens in new tab).
The person who wrote the letter, who identified herself on YouTube as former senior writer Kim MacAskill, said that the studio's response to the allegations of abuse was just "a company-wide seminar that lasted an hour … It felt that it was a just way for them to cover their arses." Shortly after that, some of the signatories of the 2018 letter sent another one expressing support for studio management (opens in new tab), which they said took "immediate action" to begin to address the problem.
Now Rocksteady has issued a statement of its own, saying that it regarded the 2018 letter as "a call to action," and that after it was received, "we met with all our female staff, we listened, and we dealt with the issues raised." All complaints were investigated, it said, and measures "including discipline or termination of staff" were taken in response.
"Since then, we have introduced new ways of ensuring we are making good on our commitment to inclusion, such as asking all female staff to provide feedback about the portrayal and behavior of characters in the games we make," the statement says. "We are dedicated to listening and improving, and have employed specialists to help further enhance equity and representation at Rocksteady."
Here is our statement: pic.twitter.com/ssyzNWfyhBAugust 21, 2020
In light of the new complaint, Rocksteady said that it has hired an independent third party that will be available to speak confidentially with employees, to ensure that management is aware of, and can address, issues that haven't been raised through regular channels. It will also reach out to all former female employees who have left the company within the past two years, to give them opportunity to speak to the interviewers as well.
"Right now, we are as passionate as ever about creating an inclusive culture and we are listening carefully," Rocksteady said. "We are determined to stand up for our staff, and stand firm against any unacceptable behavior."
MacAskill, who left Rocksteady in 2019 (she said in her video that she was "pushed out"), expressed gratitude for the action on Twitter, and asked that Rocksteady be given a proper chance to follow through.
"Everyone deserves a second chance. I wasn't happy when I left in 2019. I was gutted to be told things hadn't changed," she wrote (opens in new tab). "However, I had many happy days at RS. Please don't hate on their attempts to improve. Mistakes were made on both sides. My job is done."