Paizo Paizo Leadership Team Update

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member


Over the last six weeks, Paizo's Leadership Team has attempted to better listen to and understand the challenges faced by its workforce, customers, and community. We want to take a moment to update you on a few important developments that have emerged from those conversations.

Before we begin, it's important to note that this update does not address requests regarding salaries, adjustments to the current work-from-home environment, or other matters that are now subject to negotiation with the United Paizo Workers union during collective bargaining.

We’re still searching diligently for a candidate to fill the company’s Human Resources Manager position, and plan to begin interviews very shortly. As this is an incredibly important hire, we want to make sure we find the right candidate with experience leading initiatives related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) and working with a union. We are continuing to gather resumes as the search continues.

We’ve hired a company called Energage to complete an employee engagement survey on behalf of Paizo. This survey is designed to allow employees to provide anonymous, unfiltered, and honest feedback to the company that will help Paizo establish priorities for improvement planning. It will also serve as an important benchmark against which to measure the results of future surveys, allowing us to develop a baseline to measure against. We expect employees to be able to access the engagement survey sometime this week.

Discussion in the past several months has resurfaced two instances in which a Paizo executive mishandled user data when replying to message board posts, resulting in allegations of doxxing. These actions were contrary to Paizo policy, and corrective actions were taken to ensure that this does not happen again.

“This was a huge mistake on my part and I am deeply sorry for any issues that have arisen from these actions. This was not the right way to treat our customers and I apologize,” said Paizo President Jeff Alvarez. “As President, I know I need to hold myself to a higher standard.”

Paizo takes issues related to discrimination and harassment very seriously. We have hired the law firm of Moritt Hock & Hamroff (MH&H) to investigate allegations of discrimination against trans employees and sexual misconduct before reporting back to the Leadership Team. Investigators from the firm will reach out to members of Paizo’s staff and others that made claims on social media. Cooperation with the firm is voluntary, of course, but we remain committed to investigating these matters thoroughly to ensure a safe and respectful workplace.

We chose MH&H upon the recommendation of a consultant with expertise in matters of DEIB. MH&H has a team of attorneys that specialize in these issues, and we’re confident they’ll be able to provide an impartial analysis of the facts that we need to move forward with any corrective actions.

Because the results of these investigations are private personnel matters, Paizo will not be able to make them public. Corrective actions will be taken against any employee (including managers and executives) found to be guilty of these allegations.

It has never been Paizo’s intention to discriminate against any employee when making decisions of who to send to industry trade shows, but we see now that our room-sharing policy was based on outdated interpretations of gender, was not friendly to transgender employees, and could contribute to a perception of transphobia at the company. Paizo’s Leadership Team acknowledges the pain this caused, and we understand that we need to be better at recognizing issues where such decisions could have unintended results. We also recognize that such actions do not align with Paizo's core values, the values of its staff members, or the sentiments of diversity and inclusion expressed in Paizo products, and as such, have disappointed, angered, and confused members of our community. We believe these mistakes are not representative of who we are, or what we want the company to represent. We need to do better... and we will.

“As the person in charge of trade shows, I want to apologize to anyone that felt marginalized as a result of the convention decision-making process,” said Jeff Alvarez. “It was not our intent to discriminate against anyone, and I’m sorry.”

As previously communicated, Paizo has adopted a one-employee-per-room travel policy moving forward. Regardless of gender identity, couples will be allowed to share rooms during travel as long as both parties request it.

Paizo remains committed to maintaining a diverse, safe, and fun workplace where our employees are treated fairly and look forward to creating awesome Pathfinder and Starfinder products for many years to come. We hope that this update helps communicate that we, the Leadership Team, are doing our best to listen to and address the concerns of our community members. We believe in creating a better Paizo, and believe that transparency, communication, and accountability will be instrumental as we move forward. Thank you for your continued support of our company and our products.

Paizo Leadership Team
David, Erik, Jeff, Jim, Lisa, and Mike
 

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ReshiIRE

Adventurer
Note that he said 'anyone that felt marginalized' - not acknowleding that Paizo did marginalise trans people because of this policy, and not acknowleding in particular certain staff members suffered because of it.

Feels like a step forward, two steps back. Specific staff appear to have spoken out further because of this.

I wonder what the union will think.
 

Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
As previously communicated, Paizo has adopted a one-employee-per-room travel policy moving forward.

I am flabergasted this wasn't legally enforced in the first place... Is it common for companies to ask coworkers to share a room?!? I understand it is certainly a progress for those afflicted by the former travel policy, but it sounds like "Hey look everyone! We made improvements! We stopped whipping contractors who delivered their work late!"
 

Retreater

Legend
I am flabergasted this wasn't legally enforced in the first place... Is it common for companies to ask coworkers to share a room?!? I understand it is certainly a progress for those afflicted by the former travel policy, but it sounds like "Hey look everyone! We made improvements! We stopped whipping contractors who delivered their work late!"
I have a room to myself only when I'm the only male traveling.
 

Matchstick

Adventurer
I am flabergasted this wasn't legally enforced in the first place... Is it common for companies to ask coworkers to share a room?!? I understand it is certainly a progress for those afflicted by the former travel policy, but it sounds like "Hey look everyone! We made improvements! We stopped whipping contractors who delivered their work late!"
I've always had to share a room when traveling for work unless I'm traveling alone.
 


darjr

I crit!
It might stem from DM convention SOP. Often several DMs will be put into a single room. BaldmanGsmes does this, WotC used to, Gameholecon does. Several others do too. I used to travel a lot for the folks I worked for and we NEVER shared rooms so this was new to me hence why I suspect the practice might originate from there.

Also some of those events I went to for work were packed and rooms were scarce.
 


ReshiIRE

Adventurer
The threads on the Paizo forums reveal some following details;

  • the union wasn't informed of this statement beforehand
  • Tanya, who took over Sara, lobbed for a position above her, got that position, and then a few weeks later Sara was fired, then Diego quit

I suspect a fight upcoming between the Union and Paizo.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Yeah I've never been on a work thing which gave everybody separate hotel rooms. I don't know how common that is outside the UK, but shared rooms are the norm for that sort of thing here.
 

ReshiIRE

Adventurer
Yeah I've never been on a work thing which gave everybody separate hotel rooms. I don't know how common that is outside the UK, but shared rooms are the norm for that sort of thing here.
If the USA is culturally similiar when it comes to that practice, that would point to the somewhat damning conclusion that the policy put into place after Crystral's reporting of the incident was somewhat transphobic in the least; rather than recognising that consenting adults, regardless of gender, should be able to share a room, they decided to put everyone in single rooms, to 'seemingly' avoid a similar incident from occuring.

An incident that the company themselves caused.

Perhaps I am reading into it too much, but it certainly wasn't a well considered response to it, and didn't deal with the actual problem - transphobia. And I still think they're not properly apologising for it.
 


gss000

Explorer
If the USA is culturally similiar when it comes to that practice, that would point to the somewhat damning conclusion that the policy put into place after Crystral's reporting of the incident was somewhat transphobic in the least; rather than recognising that consenting adults, regardless of gender, should be able to share a room, they decided to put everyone in single rooms, to 'seemingly' avoid a similar incident from occuring.

An incident that the company themselves caused.

Perhaps I am reading into it too much, but it certainly wasn't a well considered response to it, and didn't deal with the actual problem - transphobia. And I still think they're not properly apologising for it.

Just when it comes to the room situation, I think you're reading too much into this. When working at conventions, I've seen or experienced companies putting one, two, or even four people in a room. A one person per room policy isn't that strange or an admission of fault if this is the route they took to prevent future problems, especially if they also decided this was a way to prevent any sexual harassment or worse in rooms.
 


ReshiIRE

Adventurer
Just when it comes to the room situation, I think you're reading too much into this. When working at conventions, I've seen or experienced companies putting one, two, or even four people in a room. A one person per room policy isn't that strange or an admission of fault if this is the route they took to prevent future problems, especially if they also decided this was a way to prevent any sexual harassment or worse in rooms.
But... that's not at all what prompted the change.

The timeline is this. Crystal Fraiser (an openly out trans woman) and another collegue (a cis woman) of hers wanted to go to a con and share a room. They both wanted this and consented to it.

It was not allowed by HR or management (I am unsure why), without explaination. Both women objected, and (I again stress) said they both wanted to share a room and were okay with the arrangement. But the company wouldn't meet this arrangement. Because of this, I believe Fraiser was unable or was too uncomfortable with the situation to attend the con.

Then, after this was brought up after Sara Marie's firing and the troubles at Paizo began, Paizo explained they had changed the policy to one person per room, seemingly in response to this, without further explaination why.

And now they've announced that people who do want to pair up can do so at future cons.

So... sexual harassment or worse never came into it.

If that was what management was thinking of when a cis woman and a trans woman, and I stress again, wanted to pair up in one room in a con together... then that sounds absolutely transphobic to me.

Maybe I am reading too much into it, but their reasons just don't make sense to me considering the situation that prompted this.
 

payn

Legend
I find it hard to believe a company would be transphobic and actually hire someone trans. I would assume there was a policy in place that bars non-married cis folks from sharing a room. When leadership was presented with the request to bypass the policy, they had to make a decision. Allow this exception and create a precedent for it, or just stick to the blanket policy and deny it. Of course, there was a third and better option to amend the policy to allow for a transfolk room policy, but Paizo leadership missed this opportunity.

Since its a D&D website, I'll just say companies often take on lawful alignments. They like tradition and are ridged, it helps protect companies and employees, but is often bureaucratic and slow to adapt. Our entire society is trying to learn how to accept and mend our traditions and norms to allow transfolk to exist in an equitable manner. Social change is difficult and doesn't happen overnight. That doesn't excuse Paizo leadership, they made a bad call here, but I do think it explains how they are not specifically transphobic. A policy that says "no transfolk can represent the company, and thus cant attend cons period" would be transphobic. This just seems like leadership pointing to a policy and shutting it down to not deal with it. Which they are now.
 

ReshiIRE

Adventurer
Transphobia, like all bigotry or attitudes, is not merely something outloud, or indeed just concious. Nor does one incident mean a company is transphobic at a whole.

But them hiring and having Fraiser as a writer and contracter doesn't mean there are not transphobic elements in the company; nor does it mean that policy itself wasn't transphobic, especially because everything I have read lead to me believing that cis people absolutely were allowed to share a room even if they weren't married. In addition, part of the early defense that came from the president themselves referenced the 'I have gay friends' excuse, which doesn't even make sense in the context.

They didn't need to create a policy dealing with trans people. Heck, them sticking to a single room by default unless people explicitly agree to double up policy would have solved the issue, if they then apologised for the trouble they caused and the fact that, whatever reason they had or not, it seemed pretty damn transphobic.

Perhaps, I should have started with this (I admit I have followed this pretty closely), but from the woman herself:

"Jess hasn't even talked about how Paizo explicitly laid out different freelancing rules for their only transgender employee at the time solely because a queer employee made that manager uncomfortable and she didn't want her having outside opportunities."

"Or how Paizo made employees double up in convention rooms, and refused to bring transgender employees to conventions (limiting career development and networking) because they wouldn't room a cis woman employee with a trans woman coworker even when they both said it was fine."

It seems pretty blunt to me.
 



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