Paizo Update from Jeff Alvarez

Monday, September 20, 2021

My public statement on Wednesday was a fundamental expression of Paizo’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, values that I share both personally and professionally. It was an opening statement—not the final word on the topic by any means.

Words are important.

But I also know that actions are even more important.

As a result, I want to share with you a number of actions that address some of the concerns that have been brought to our attention over the last week.

The welfare and safety of our employees is paramount. No employee will ever be fired for whistleblowing or advocating for employee safety and wellbeing, and we have never fired an employee for doing so.

Following our return from Gen Con, the Executive Team will schedule individual meetings with our managers to give them a chance to share concerns directly. In the coming weeks, Paizo will issue an independently managed employee engagement survey to provide all employees with an anonymous means to provide candid feedback. The information provided through this process is aimed at addressing employee concerns and driving change to create a more positive workplace.

We take all claims of harassment seriously. Our CEO Lisa Stevens released a statement in 2019 that underscores Paizo’s stance on this matter, and it applies today as well. You can read that here: https://paizo.com/community/guidelines.

We held staff-wide in person anti-harassment training in 2018 and initiated annual mandatory online training earlier in 2021.

We are currently finalizing a job description to fill a vacant full-time HR position. You’ll see this posted in the next few business days, and we’ll be looking for a candidate with expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is important to all of us that this professional can help us to maintain Paizo’s shared commitment to our values in recruitment, hiring, and daily operations.

In the meantime, we are encouraging our employees to make use of the free independent human resources hotline Paizo initiated in 2018, where they can report grievances of any kind in complete confidentiality.

Paizo makes decisions about employee convention attendance based on the business and community needs of the show, irrespective of gender or gender identity. However, it is time that Paizo evolves from the longtime practice of employees sharing rooms during convention and business travel. As such, we have enacted a one-employee-per-room policy that will be our standard moving forward. Employees can request to share a room if they so choose.

We are extending Paizo’s existing work-from-home timeline through at least the end of the year. Employees that want to work from the office can continue to do so but will need to abide by the company’s existing vaccination and mask policies. We will continue to follow CDC guidelines and keep our employees as safe as possible during the pandemic by offering work-from-home and a safe office space for those who prefer that option.

Over the last several years, we have invested heavily in Project Management to help the company get a better sense of workload in the Creative Department, implementing company-wide project management software and increasing the size of the project management team. This work has already resulted in increased production schedule lead times, and Paizo will continue to leverage this valuable resource to provide better work/life balances for our employees.

In the same period, the creation of additional management positions within the Creative Department has also helped give staff better access to managers, and to empower those managers to better gauge deadlines and workloads. As with our Project Management initiatives, this is an ongoing process, but it is already bearing fruit and improving not just Paizo’s products, but the lives of the brilliant creatives who make them possible.

To clear up some confusion that has worked its way into the conversation, freelancer relations remains the purview of the Creative Department. Paizo freelancers who appreciate their strong relationship with our developers, editors, and art team can be assured that we have made no changes on this front.

Finally, based on feedback from the staff, we changed professional cleaning services in 2017, and the offices have been cleaned and vacuumed on a regular basis since then.

These aren’t the only things we are doing. We are building strategies to address the challenges facing the company and will strive to be more transparent about our plans as we build stronger lines of communication with everyone at Paizo. We are committed to listening. We are committed to continuing to improve based on the feedback of our teams. There will be more messages, and more concrete actions, to come.

--Jeff

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I think a thing a lot of people are (in many cases deliberately) missing is that we don't want to hurt Paizo or anyone in Paizo. We want Paizo to improve and be the best Paizo it can be, for the workers to have the best work environment possible, and for the community to have a safe and inclusive environment.

A good friend tells a friend when they are doing something harmful. A good person wants to be notified if something they are doing is harmful to others. If you have a relationship (friendship, romantic, customer, whatever) where you can't (or won't) give feedback, that is extremely unhealthy.

Basically, Paizo should want the community to give feedback and call them out when they do something harmful. This feedback is useful information and beneficial to the long term health of a company.


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My feedback to Paizo would be: “there are some worrying trends that are apparent in the security of my data with your organisation and website; please advise as to what you are doing to ensure cybersafety/data protection”.

Both as a customer and a 3rd party publisher.


OCEANSHIELDWOLPF 2.0 wrote:

My feedback to Paizo would be: “there are some worrying trends that are apparent in the security of my data with your organisation and website; please advise as to what you are doing to ensure cybersafety/data protection”.

Both as a customer and a 3rd party publisher.

Yep. What he said.


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Tender Tendrils wrote:

I am going to post one thing about this - don't bother to reply to the people asking for you to define an apology for them. It is a common bad faith argument meant to shut down calls for accountability. You don't need to have an entire written script of what the apologizing person should say and do to be valid in asking for accountability.

They are just throwing up pedantic argument after pedantic argument in hopes of derailing the thread until it gets locked, just like they (they as a collective) did in the other threads.

While I agree with this, I will happily state for the record that if anyone from Paizo posted my personal information onto this forum I would want that person fired; and I don't care if they're the CEO or the janitor.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

In retrospect, I'd originally been cautious about drawing harsh lines in the sand specifically because of the pedantic arguments Tender Tendrils mentioned, but Wandering Wastrel is right:

If a doctor violates HIPAA they risk losing their job and even their medical license.

If I, as a government worker, gave out personal information I could be fired.

We are talking a massive, serious, and borderline illegal violation of public trust here. It doesn't matter how small the company is or who holds the position. If I knew that at any moment someone could post my personal information here just because...I wouldn't trust Paizo as a company. The idea is that for basic transactions to occur, some baseline level of trust needs to exist. I give them my home address because logistically, the product I purchase from them needs to be shipped somewhere. I give them my legal name because that's the name on the credit card I use to purchase their products. I understand that there is a need for that information. Every company that sells things and ships them asks for it. But if I know that information is going to be misused? Why would I buy from that company.

So yeah, personally, my desired consequence: I genuinely think Jeff should either resign or be removed from his position. Apologies are well and good but that is a serious breach of trust. An even if he receives training after the fact, the fact that he hasn't been properly held to account for years at this point tells me that I'm not sure that this can be resolved internally in such a manner. To echo WW, if someone posted my personal information on the forums, I'd want them fired before I trusted the company with my information. This is serious stuff. I'm frankly confused why people seem to think that degree of accountability is somehow excessive? It's...common practice for this sort of security breach?


Pathfinder Companion, LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
The Drunken Dragon wrote:
I'm frankly confused why people seem to think that degree of accountability is somehow excessive? It's...common practice for this sort of security breach?

I haven't seen too many people claim that level of accountability is excessive. There have been a few but the majority are just fence sitters not sure what they're asking for.

Personally, I just want to know what people actually want here rather than throwing out vague calls for 'accountability'. I'm fine with a simple apology as long as it doesn't happen again. That's my absolute minimum and he has already met it. But, if Jeff resigns or is removed from his position due to his actions that's also a fine and viable response to what happened.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Master Han Del of the Web wrote:
This didn't happen back in the early 2000s, this happened only a couple of years ago.

That’s being charitable.

It was last year.

The Exchange

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Gloom wrote:
I'm fine with a simple apology as long as it doesn't happen again. That's my absolute minimum and he has already met it.

To me that's completely sufficient. Of course, anyone can have their own opinion about it, it's just that I won't support claims for more.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Just want to circle back, and yes the Doxxing is a huge issue that should have been properly addressed at the time and I don't think ever will be.

This is just a symptom of what workplace environment is cultivated by the people at the top.

With both Mona and Buhlman stating that they have tried to do their best to make the work place a better environment over the years and from what I remember admitting that they failed at times due to a lack of power or control is what I was focusing on here with the Doxxing of customers and othering of employees.

I have no problem imagining or believing that the people at the top are capable of fostering a work place environment of fear and submission. With the dismissal of Sara Marie and the fact that Diego left in protest stating that at least 2 managers above him would make the work environment unbearable says that there are issues.

I am happy to see some of the employees coming and saying that there is movement in the right direction. I just don't think that movement is sustainable if the people in charge of the direction of the company are the people who implemented and enforced the policies that got them there in the first place.

The longer I sit on this the more I am sadly coming to the conclusion that my subscriptions will likely come to an end or at least be extremely diminished to bare essentials if I don't feel comfortable with the company who claims to be so inclusive and at the same time it appears that people who leave do so because they feel that they are not being acknowledged. Crystal and Jessica both don't deserve the vitriol that I see sent in their direction. If anyone was attacking Jeff the way they attacked Jessica my guess is it would be a quick trip to ban land.

Only reason this conversation about Jeff has continued is because they left some of the original conversation public. I can't imagine that people would have believed me otherwise when I brought up the doxxing in the first place and I don't have to imagine what would be being said about me if we didn't have the receipts.

Liberty's Edge

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Since folks are still keen on talking about their discomfort supporting Paizo here I want to just take a moment to respectfully say that not everyone falls into that basket.

I'm not wringing my hands about any of this stuff any longer with the exception of the need to ensure the company gets their best practices together in terms of communicating with the community (because clearly mistakes have been made) to eliminate any more gaffs that could be exploited as ammo against them, as well as my sincere desire that some way is found to help raise all boats in terms of salary and fair compensation

If anything the way things have been handled has reinforced my faith in the company to handle things ethically and continue to represent their core mission. I can't really blame anyone for their stance on these things, we all have different perspectives and I've come to appreciate that more over the last few weeks, my real aim here though is instead not to push against others' perspectives, but to offer understanding and appreciation for the people at Paizo. It is every consumer's right and responsibility to choose what they do on their own based on what they feel and know, and I respect other's decision to walk away even if I know I won't.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Aaron, your statement is much appreciated, however I shall still continue to voice my desires for improvement and change. I want to see paizo improve and if what you're saying is true, and I want to trust that it is, then I am glad that we are being heard. Either way, I just want to reiterate that I still stand by what I said before, I want the trans allegations to be addressed and for the employees to be treated better, whether it be the writers, editors, customer service or the folks who work hard to ship the products to us. I know paizo CAN do better, and I want to hope that they will, but only time will tell at this point, I'll be keeping an eye on this situation to see how it develops

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

We know.


14 people marked this as a favorite.

Since I'm grinding an axe anyways, perhaps with the new Director of Community we can finally get some actual forum guidelines beyond "Don't be a jerk" since those clearly don't work well.

As it stands, things that can get you banned.

  • Talking about Brass Knuckles(Please don't ban me)
  • Snarky comments about design decisions
  • Asking questions about why your trans friend was banned

Things that apparently do not get you banned.

  • Harassing a 3rd party developer in their own product thread
  • Harassing posters if they are criticizing paizo products
  • Threatening to dox forum members

Not an exhaustive list, but just some of the absurdity I have encountered personally.


13 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

An update to the reasons listed in the flagging system would be nice. If political conversations are not welcome, then a “politics discussion” tag should be in there. And an “unerringly persistent troll lord” tag might be nice.

As for “walking a mile in their shoes,” I only need to take a half a step before I decide that giving out someone’s first name that is locked inside of their account in an attempt to shut them up through intimidation is not behavior I agree with with.


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thejeff wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
The blog post that he transparently wrote. Like, it uses his exact wording and his exact complaints and he's the one who linked it. I literally don't know what we're expected to do at this point, other than point at the account, call it a troll, then move on. At this point, I'm sorry, threads aren't getting locked because people are uncivil. Threads are getting locked because one or two abusive sock puppets are running rampant.

I believe he was also the one who earlier posted here about wanting some people here to get doxxed - can't be 100% sure since that post is long deleted.

It was him, yes.


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It is appalling if that poster doesn't get banned.

He actively shared a call for doxxing of other boards members on these boards.

That's not a moment of passion,or saying something unkind. That's calculated and dangerous.


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I want to thank the moderators. I saw some of yesterday's inflammatory posts, and I see they're gone now. (Left TriOmegaZero's "We know" hanging there hilariously, too!)

I've been coming in here and observing, not saying much, watching to see how this all pans out. Most customers never do complain, they just make their decisions and stay or leave, and never give the company any feedback. So I'm pleased to see that Paizo is allowing/encouraging these conversations, and helping weed out the trolling by troublemakers while leaving non-troll criticism and concerns about the company in place. I think this demonstrates that Paizo as a whole recognizes, Feedback is a Gift, and is listening to these conversations.

I'm very impressed by Kobold Cleaver, Keftiu, Cori Marie, Rysky, TriOmegaZero, and so many others who have shown incredible grace in raising concerns in constructive ways, standing up for the health of this community, and pushing back in extremely appropriate ways when people come in and try to cause trouble.

For myself - I'm deeply concerned by the doxxing of Yoshua and at least one other forumite last year by Paizo's president. I went and read those threads, and the behavior displayed was troubling, as was the lack of apology when the doxxed names were finally redacted. The inability to apologize or admit fault is a terrible trait for a person in any leadership position - number one on the list of traits of toxic bosses. I have no way of knowing if this is characteristic of Jeff's behavior toward any members of Paizo staff, but I sincerely hope that if this resonates at all with how he treats people within the company, this be taken SERIOUSLY.

I'm also concerned by the ongoing anti-trans comments of certain forum-goers. The moderators have been cleaning them up (thank you!) but I think that dirtypool's suggestion up-thread of some new Flagging options could be very helpful. And I'm in favor of stricter penalties for those who just come here to troll the community.


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Cintra Bristol wrote:

I want to thank the moderators. I saw some of yesterday's inflammatory posts, and I see they're gone now. (Left TriOmegaZero's "We know" hanging there hilariously, too!)

I've been coming in here and observing, not saying much, watching to see how this all pans out. Most customers never do complain, they just make their decisions and stay or leave, and never give the company any feedback. So I'm pleased to see that Paizo is allowing/encouraging these conversations, and helping weed out the trolling by troublemakers while leaving non-troll criticism and concerns about the company in place. I think this demonstrates that Paizo as a whole recognizes, Feedback is a Gift, and is listening to these conversations.

I'm very impressed by Kobold Cleaver, Keftiu, Cori Marie, Rysky, TriOmegaZero, and so many others who have shown incredible grace in raising concerns in constructive ways, standing up for the health of this community, and pushing back in extremely appropriate ways when people come in and try to cause trouble.

For myself - I'm deeply concerned by the doxxing of Yoshua and at least one other forumite last year by Paizo's president. I went and read those threads, and the behavior displayed was troubling, as was the lack of apology when the doxxed names were finally redacted. The inability to apologize or admit fault is a terrible trait for a person in any leadership position - number one on the list of traits of toxic bosses. I have no way of knowing if this is characteristic of Jeff's behavior toward any members of Paizo staff, but I sincerely hope that if this resonates at all with how he treats people within the company, this be taken SERIOUSLY.

I'm also concerned by the ongoing anti-trans comments of certain forum-goers. The moderators have been cleaning them up (thank you!) but I think that dirtypool's suggestion up-thread of some new Flagging options could be very helpful. And I'm in favor of stricter penalties for those who just come here to troll the community.

All of this. The Yoshua incident is deep disturbing. We trust Paizo to keep our private information private. If the CEO was willing to fling someone's information out in the heat of the moment, why should we be trusting the company he runs with it?

We know that the people who Paizo's products stand against transphobia, but it's policies, both within the company and on the forums, need to do so explicitly. The former we may never know 100%, but the later we can see right before us. The trans members of our community are putting themselves on the front line and getting harassed for it. My cis ass is here to say that it needs to end. I know life absolutely sucks for CS right now and all compassion goes out to them, but in the last two weeks, the forums have become far more toxic and unsafe. I don't feel comfortable even lurking here anymore. Transphobia CANNOT be accepted and I dearly wish for there to be an explicit policy for forum user on how it will be moderated.


18 people marked this as a favorite.

Just to chime in that you can perfectly run a company that externally stands for LGBT+ people, PoC and fluffy puppies but internally be a bigoted transphobic racist who punts little puppies from great heights.

Terminal phase capitalism only makes this easier.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Especially when those endeavoring to put LGBT+ and PoC rep into the books are not the person being accused of the transphobia, but in fact the ones targeted by it.


10 people marked this as a favorite.
Cori Marie wrote:
Especially when those endeavoring to put LGBT+ and PoC rep into the books are not the person being accused of the transphobia, but in fact the ones targeted by it.

I cannot favorite this enough.


7 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Cintra Bristol wrote:

I want to thank the moderators. I saw some of yesterday's inflammatory posts, and I see they're gone now. (Left TriOmegaZero's "We know" hanging there hilariously, too!)

I've been coming in here and observing, not saying much, watching to see how this all pans out. Most customers never do complain, they just make their decisions and stay or leave, and never give the company any feedback. So I'm pleased to see that Paizo is allowing/encouraging these conversations, and helping weed out the trolling by troublemakers while leaving non-troll criticism and concerns about the company in place. I think this demonstrates that Paizo as a whole recognizes, Feedback is a Gift, and is listening to these conversations.

I'm very impressed by Kobold Cleaver, Keftiu, Cori Marie, Rysky, TriOmegaZero, and so many others who have shown incredible grace in raising concerns in constructive ways, standing up for the health of this community, and pushing back in extremely appropriate ways when people come in and try to cause trouble.

For myself - I'm deeply concerned by the doxxing of Yoshua and at least one other forumite last year by Paizo's president. I went and read those threads, and the behavior displayed was troubling, as was the lack of apology when the doxxed names were finally redacted. The inability to apologize or admit fault is a terrible trait for a person in any leadership position - number one on the list of traits of toxic bosses. I have no way of knowing if this is characteristic of Jeff's behavior toward any members of Paizo staff, but I sincerely hope that if this resonates at all with how he treats people within the company, this be taken SERIOUSLY.

I'm also concerned by the ongoing anti-trans comments of certain forum-goers. The moderators have been cleaning them up (thank you!) but I think that dirtypool's suggestion up-thread of some new Flagging options could be very helpful. And I'm in favor of stricter penalties for those who just come here to troll the community.

Just for clarity, I wasn't the member doxxed but a few others and I had to be extremely vocal for a couple weeks to get the issue resolved when it never should have happened in the first place.

Agree 100% with everything in this post.

If someone is calling for violence or real world harrassment I have no clue why they still have posting privilege's. Sure a short ban for a first offense that isn't dire. But repeatedly? Why allow that toxicity in the community.

Agree that it is a shame that Sara Marie and Diego aren't here to help guide the conversation or help keep it on track.

Appreciate all you mods in the back ground keeping the majority of the harmful posts cleaned up.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Cori Marie wrote:
Especially when those endeavoring to put LGBT+ and PoC rep into the books are not the person being accused of the transphobia, but in fact the ones targeted by it.

I think this is the worst of it. It's bad enough that individuals on this forum are being targeted and made to feel unsafe by losers who post transphobic remarks before eventually being squelched. But there's a particular kind of horror to discovering that, all along, at least some of the calls might have been coming from inside the house.

(anyway, I've posted a LOT in the last few days so this introvert is going to go back to lurking. But sometimes silence can look like complicity and I refuse to be complicit.)


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cori Marie wrote:
Especially when those endeavoring to put LGBT+ and PoC rep into the books are not the person being accused of the transphobia, but in fact the ones targeted by it.

100%

(I skipped the word writers in my post, they were absolutely who I was referring to pushing for representation from within Paizo.)


10 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Yeah, the open transphobia thats jumped out recently on the forums is incredibly concerning. People like that have no place in the Paizo community and I understand that customer service is probably busy right now but its still incredibly worrisome and It makes me worried for the future of paizo, and thats not even getting into the poster who shall not be named who wants to dox people. Stuff like that is not ok

Paizo Employee Director of Community

5 people marked this as a favorite.

removed some posts for violence and personal attacks, as well as quotes. We appreciate the suggestions regarding flags as well as clearer guidelines. That will take some time, but I've added it to the list. As for moderation, that is happening, but we don't publically comment on what actions we take regarding any of our community members.

Paizo Employee Director of Community

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Removed posts on a completely unrelated topic.


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I was not familiar with the events of almost a year ago where Alvarez thought it appropriate to call a person by their real name and then offer a non-apology apology (behaviors are patterns). In most other lines of work there would be serious ramifications against people who did this.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
I was not familiar with the events of almost a year ago where Alvarez thought it appropriate to call a person by their real name and then offer a non-apology apology (behaviors are patterns). In most other lines of work there would be serious ramifications against people who did this.

If a worker, not an exec, did this they would be fired.


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vagrant-poet wrote:
Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
I was not familiar with the events of almost a year ago where Alvarez thought it appropriate to call a person by their real name and then offer a non-apology apology (behaviors are patterns). In most other lines of work there would be serious ramifications against people who did this.
If a worker, not an exec, did this they would be fired.

At least fired.


25 people marked this as a favorite.

If Jessica had done this, I'm honestly not sure how many people would think a simple apology would be enough.

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