In November 2018, 10 of the 16 women who worked at Rocksteady Studios reportedly signed and delivered a letter to management about the studio’s toxic work environment. The message from female staffers’ addressed reports of sexual harassment, unwanted advances, sexually explicit remarks, and slurs aimed at the transgender community. Allegedly, the Batman: Arkham studio held a one-hour training seminar shortly after the letter’s submission to address the allegations. Those who took part signed a statement saying they attended the meeting in question. However, additional reports claim the company culture failed to improve; thus, management’s inaction allowed inappropriate behavior to continue unabated.
According to The Guardian, who received the letter from one of the signees, such impropriety found its way into Rocksteady’s projects. One staffer told the publication that highly sexualized designs of characters like Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy were a result of the awful studio culture.
Staff members were inspired to speak out by Ubisoft’s announcement that it’s restructuring management in the wake of misconduct allegations. A representative for Rocksteady has since addressed The Guardian’s report, admitting the London-based office has indeed received complaints about misconduct. The spokesperson told the media outlet:
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 reports that after reaching out to media, Rocksteady held a meeting to confront concerns made in the 2018 letter. Rocksteady reportedly informed the publication that it will take further steps to prevent misconduct.
These claims come on the eve of Rocksteady finally unveiling its next project, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. The full reveal will go live during DC FanDome on August 22nd. Whether or not the team plans to further acknowledge the above claims remains to be seen.