Batman: Arkham studio accused of failing to prevent sexual harassment

Nearly two years ago, several female employees at Rocksteady Studios, the developer behind the Batman: Arkham series, sent a letter to management accusing the studio of failing to prevent sexual harassment and sexism in the workplace, according to a new report by The Guardian.

The letter, which was reportedly sent to management in November 2018, was signed by 10 of the 16 women employed at the London-based studio. Several issues addressed in the letter to management include continuous unprofessional behavior inside the office, such as derogatory and sexually explicit remarks about women, slurs targeted at the transgender community, and various forms of sexual harassment “in the form of unwanted advances, leering at parts of a woman’s body, and inappropriate comments in the office.”

One individual who signed the letter told The Guardian that sexual misconduct had also bled into the studio’s projects, claiming that designs for several characters, including Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, were highly sexualized.

According to one of The Guardian’s sources, after the letter was sent to management, the company held a one-hour training session to address the issues raised in the letter. Participants who attended were reportedly told to sign a statement acknowledging they partook in the seminar. But aside from that seminar, no additional measures were taken to create a safer environment, according to the source.

The signee said she shared the letter with The Guardian after Ubisoft announced that new measures were being made internally to create a safe and healthy work environment, which includes multiple high-profile employees departing from the company and the studio tying bonuses to team leads based on their ability to create a more inclusive environment in the workplace. Ubisoft has been under scrutiny since June, when dozens of people came forward on social media about the company’s toxic work culture, and new allegations are still being made.

In a statement to The Guardian, a Rocksteady spokesperson acknowledged that it had received several complaints about inappropriate behavior in the workplace:

From day one at Rocksteady Studios, we set out to create a place where people are looked after, a place fundamentally built on respect and inclusion. In 2018 we received a letter from some of our female employees expressing concerns they had at that time, and we immediately took firm measures to address the matters that were raised. Over the subsequent two years we have carefully listened to and learned from our employees, working to ensure every person on the team feels supported. In 2020 we are more passionate than ever to continue to develop our inclusive culture, and we are determined to stand up for all of our staff.

The Guardian says that after it reached out for a comment, Rocksteady held an all-hands meeting, which allegedly addressed the letter sent back in 2018 for the first time and told the outlet that new measures were being taken to prevent further discrimination in the workplace.

The announcement comes at a very awkward time for Rocksteady. While the studio has not released a new game since 2016, it’s currently developing a new Suicide Squad game, which it plans to reveal later this week.

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