Montreal, June 9, 2021 – In January 2021, allegations of workplace harassment and inappropriate workplace conduct were reported by the media. The purpose of this report is to provide an update on the steps that we have taken since the release of our preliminary statement.
Following the reporting of the allegations, Scavengers Studio immediately initiated an independent process to investigate and address the situation. The studio’s priority was to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees.
2021 Workplace assessment
Mandate & Methodology
An external firm specializing in workplace audits, Solertia Consulting Group, was engaged by the Board of Directors to conduct an independent workplace assessment of Scavengers Studio’s culture and practices. The Board gave Solertia Consulting Group full discretion as to the methodology of the assessment and full and unfettered access to Scavengers Studio’s employees. Over 85% of the workforce participated in the assessment, which made it possible to obtain a fair and unbiased picture of the current situation at Scavengers Studio.
While there are workplace behaviours that still require improvement, the audit did not find the presence of systemic sexual or psychological harassment at the Studio. Nevertheless, the Studio remains committed to improving its workplace experience and to this end Solertia Consulting Group has formulated a three tiered plan: Organizational culture and structure, HR Effectiveness and Communication.
Scavengers management had already started focusing on areas to develop, which include these actions:
- Working sessions to define and clarify the company’s mission, vision and values.
- Clarifying roles and responsibilities of each employee.
- Creating, reviewing, training and communicating the performance management process to employees.
- Developing a clear path and development plan for employees.
The 2021 workplace assessment report and action plan has been shared in its entirety with the team, and presented to the board by Solertia Consulting Group. The board has welcomed all of the recommendations by the external firm and management is committed to the implementation of the same.
In 2019, an independent investigation was launched following allegations that Simon Darveau, the CEO of the Studio at the time, acted inappropriately at a party. Management was quick to act and address the situation swiftly but discreetly, resulting in actions that included Simon stepping down from his position of CEO. The Solertia report revealed that the absence of clear communication from management as to the steps taken created the perception that nothing was done or that the allegations were not taken seriously. This was not the case. However, the lack of communication in regards to management’s actions following the allegations is regrettable.
The details of what happened and the disciplinary actions taken were not communicated to the team until recently when allegations were made in the media. It should have been done so at the time of the events, to reinforce the company’s values by sharing clearly with everyone the consequences of this type of behaviour. Instead, the lack of transparency created an atmosphere of uncertainty. This was not a small mistake. The confusion and emotional turmoil it caused is something we deeply regret.
In the wake of the 2021 media article, there was an independent assessment of the workplace. This audit did not find any evidence of misconduct since 2019. This indicates that the measures taken at the time did have their intended effect. Simon has been cooperative in the process and accepted responsibility for his actions. As a result, the Board of Directors approved Simon’s conditional reinstatement. Understanding the impact that these allegations had on the team, Simon has chosen a smaller, non managerial role, prototyping a Research and Development project.
Other Studio Updates
Following the workplace assessment results, Amélie Lamarche was reinstated by the Board of Directors as CEO.
“I appreciate the courage of current and former employees who have come forward to share their experiences of their time at the company. It’s understandable that because the management and systems in place appeared to fail, people raised the issue through the press. While there’s no version of this event where everyone would have agreed on everything, had I been forthcoming at the time, a lot of pain could have been avoided. Important conversations that should have happened in 2019 only happened in 2021.
This situation prompted the company to carry out a workplace assessment which opened my eyes to the lack of communication and the ripple effect of our decisions on the team’s well-being. It also showed that the studio climate is now in a good place. There are still areas for improvement. To be sure all experiences are accounted for, not only internally, we continue to invite former employees who haven’t reached out yet to contact myself or the independent firm Solertia Consulting Group (at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org) who handles these issues with confidentiality.
I am encouraged that our efforts to promote inclusion and diversity over the last two years have helped us attract strong and capable women in the top three leadership roles in the Studio. I believe the work we are currently doing will testify to the fact that more diverse teams lead to unprecedented, meaningful experiences. There is a disconnect between who we are in this moment and who we want to be in the future. We work every day towards resolving that disconnect, so the wonderful collection of human beings that make up our studio will be clear. We are learning from the past, attentive to the conditions in the present, and mapping out the kind of better future we all want to live in.”