Riot has been under a lot of scrutiny throughout 2018, following an exposé that highlighted discrimination in the workplace. Despite promising a “zero tolerance policy” against such behaviour, it wasn’t until dozens more victims came forward and a lawsuit reared its head that internal investigations began to produce results, now seeing chief operating officer (COO) Scott Gelb suspended without pay.
Ongoing inquiries that have taken place across the past year have unveiled a dark side to the League of Legends developer, alleging that sexism has repeatedly cost female candidates the chance at progression while shouldering them with more responsibilities than they’re paid for. Gelb was specifically highlighted during Kotaku’s lengthy inquiries, accused of inappropriately touching colleagues and conducting questionable fraternity-like behaviour deemed unacceptable in the workplace.
Riot promised action, stating that it was “prepared to make big changes and have begun taking action against specific cases.” This saw many of the accused leave the company one way or another; however Gelb remained seemingly unscathed by repercussions. It turns out that investigations into the COO simply took longer than other employees, with CEO Nicolo Laurent informing Riot staff that Gelb has been suspended for two unpaid months and is required to attend training upon his return.
“Scott could have avoided owning his past and his consequences. He could have left Riot. Scott chose ownership and redemption,” Laurent explained. “I will root for him, will support him through this journey, and will leverage him as a great leader when he returns next year. I hope you will join me.”
Despite brushing off some claims from Kotaku and other publications as “untrue,” Laurent failed to clarify what exactly should be corrected and what Gelb has owned up to. Riot employees have deemed the “tiny slap on the wrist” as an insult to those affected by Gelb’s alleged behaviour, expressing worry at his return to a position of power within the company while wounds will still be fresh.
KitGuru Says: Clarity is difficult given that Riot is currently under pressure from a lawsuit. While reform wouldn’t make up for the harm caused by whatever actions Gelb has admitted to, we hope that the COO does manage to empathise with the struggles of his subordinates moving forward.