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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Paizo Employee Director of Community

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Removed another batch of posts due to masked profanity, trolling, pitchforks, and quotes. Please help us help you have a space to talk and discuss the issues without causing moderation headaches. Thank you so much!
Edited to add that I removed an off-topic discussion on late-stage capitalism.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Pathetic, seeing how in-house moderation scrubs the record out. There was nothing even vaguely off-topic in there, especially with regards to how late-stage capitalism shapes the relationship of a company with its consumers and how the officers of such might be held to account.

It's like that was the essence of the conversation anyway.


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By this stage it seems clear to me that part of the problem is Paizo's Director of Community, who is more invested in hiding complaints than addressing them. Let's see how long this lasts, huh?


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Catulle wrote:

Pathetic, seeing how in-house moderation scrubs the record out. There was nothing even vaguely off-topic in there, especially with regards to how late-stage capitalism shapes the relationship of a company with its consumers and how the officers of such might be held to account.

It's like that was the essence of the conversation anyway.

Discussion of politics is against forum rules.

They've kind of been relaxed on that in recent weeks (for pretty obvious reasons) but barring the last few weeks exceptional circumstances it's pretty common for an on topic, thoughtful, high quality post to be removed for including political topics. That's just not the type of content they want on their forums.

I don't think it's surprising that having allowed things to run for a little while they're going to begin enforcing that rule once more.


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Catulle wrote:

Pathetic, seeing how in-house moderation scrubs the record out. There was nothing even vaguely off-topic in there, especially with regards to how late-stage capitalism shapes the relationship of a company with its consumers and how the officers of such might be held to account.

It's like that was the essence of the conversation anyway.

I’m a rabid anticapitalist and I still don’t think a forum thread about misconduct from Paizo’s management is the place to discuss the broad strokes of macroeconomics. Trying to foster outrage over perfectly mundane forum moderation when there are very real problems going unaddressed doesn’t help our cause any.


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And yet what was deleted was utterly on-topic.

How awful is it that criticism of the structures that enable Jeff Alvarez' abuse of authority and data control get deleted away - Jeff is not the sole issue here, it's the structures that enabled his abuses to thrive... and that, my friends, is late-stage capitalism.


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keftiu wrote:
Catulle wrote:

Pathetic, seeing how in-house moderation scrubs the record out. There was nothing even vaguely off-topic in there, especially with regards to how late-stage capitalism shapes the relationship of a company with its consumers and how the officers of such might be held to account.

It's like that was the essence of the conversation anyway.

I’m a rabid anticapitalist and I still don’t think a forum thread about misconduct from Paizo’s management is the place to discuss the broad strokes of macroeconomics. Trying to foster outrage over perfectly mundane forum moderation when there are very real problems going unaddressed doesn’t help our cause any.

Okay, I'll buy that from you and take your lead from here on in.


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In general, let's try not to discuss moderation in the thread. It's off-topic, likely to get deleted, and emailing them is better, anyways. That one time with the now-banned user was, IMO, a special case.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

The long-standing policy has been that if you're unhappy with a forum moderation decision and wish to bring it up publicly, it is best to open a new thread in the website feedback forum, rather than in the thread in which the moderation occurred.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Catulle wrote:

And yet what was deleted was utterly on-topic.

How awful is it that criticism of the structures that enable Jeff Alvarez' abuse of authority and data control get deleted away - Jeff is not the sole issue here, it's the structures that enabled his abuses to thrive... and that, my friends, is late-stage capitalism.

It's still there, you and I can't see it but it's still visible internally.


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Catulle wrote:
keftiu wrote:
Catulle wrote:

Pathetic, seeing how in-house moderation scrubs the record out. There was nothing even vaguely off-topic in there, especially with regards to how late-stage capitalism shapes the relationship of a company with its consumers and how the officers of such might be held to account.

It's like that was the essence of the conversation anyway.

I’m a rabid anticapitalist and I still don’t think a forum thread about misconduct from Paizo’s management is the place to discuss the broad strokes of macroeconomics. Trying to foster outrage over perfectly mundane forum moderation when there are very real problems going unaddressed doesn’t help our cause any.
Okay, I'll buy that from you and take your lead from here on in.

I really appreciate this reply - thank you. I know how hard it is to rein things in.

Here’s hoping for some more concrete news soon.


Still waiting…


I guess the questions is, can we expect Paizo to do anything about Jeff's abhorrent behavior?


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We won't really know until the statement comes out. I think there's been a problem on this forum lately with a sort of performative cynicism. It doesn't really add anything to the discussion.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I hope some more information comes out soon. I understand they're busy shipping out products right now but the longer we go without hearing anything the more nervous I get. Fingers crossed


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The only power we have to influence the situation without simply taking our business elsewhere is to not shut up about it. I would have totally missed this whole thing if I didn't randomly check the general discussion forums as I usually stick to the Starfinder ones.

I did completely miss the doxxing incident until now.

Paizo Employee Director of Community

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I don't have a timeline on updates from the Paizo executive team, but I did want to take a moment to confirm discussions are ongoing and they are still actively involved in reviewing feedback/messages/issues.

Grand Lodge

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Same message that Paizo has produced for virtually every incident that has occurred for years and much more often than not, nothing comes of it. The community is often completely unaware of anything having been done because they "hide" behind the idea of privacy. While there is certainly some legitimacy to that, it also means they can take little to no action and no one will be the wiser. Sorry, not sorry, but I have heard these types of statements so often I lost count and interest. I'll believe anything has changed when I actually see changes, not when someone at Paizo recycles the same old appeasement message.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tonya Woldridge wrote:
I don't have a timeline on updates from the Paizo executive team, but I did want to take a moment to confirm discussions are ongoing and they are still actively involved in reviewing feedback/messages/issues.

It's been nine days since the last email communication we had. Is that the preferred contact method? Would it be best to post here on the forums instead? :-/


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Pious platitudes and no action will only cause the community to lose MORE faith in Paizo's team.


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I hope we can hear something from management soon. As I've said before, I can't in good conscience purchase Paizo products until the transphobia allegations are addressed.

Grand Lodge

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So, its been what, three weeks since the Baby Ruth hit the fan? How long exactly does it take for the executive team to sit down in a room together and commit itself to respecting and supporting their staff?!? I mean words are gonna be lost on me anyway (I want to see actual action over time), but the fact that the only action to be taken so far is to say "we're talking about it" is so incredibly ludicrous that it's insulting to anyone with a functional brain.


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As someone whose brain does occasionally behave itself, it's not that weird. If they're actually making structural changes, in fact, they would have to take some time. Any kind of reorganizing or policy changing or contacting with third parties means a lot of labor and bureaucracy. It would be much easier and faster to rush out meaningless platitudes. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a good sign that they're taking a while, but I would call it a neutral one at least.

Basically, it taking a while is what we'd expect either way. It doesn't mean anything special.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

Yeah, if they had announced any meaningful change in policy already I’d be very skeptical that the non-executive staff could have had much input. I’m sure consultation didn’t start until after GenCon and no doubt some staff at least had booked vacations for immediately post convention season.

The longer it goes, the harder it is to win back trust. Nonetheless, moving too swiftly isn’t going to help either. (From my perspective anyhow - as ever, we all have to make our own calls on what the issues are and what counts as sufficient action).

I’d rather they did it right, not quickly - I want people to look back at this period and recognise it as the straw that broke the camel’s back, prompting real change. Not just a series of statements put out very quickly.


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I'm personally quite glad that Paizo have delayed their response. It has allowed time for the transphobia shown towards Crystal to be revealed; and I only found out about the doxxing a few days ago.

I suspect that most of the community is still unaware of that; if it was more widely known that their personal data might occasionally be used against them by senior management whenever the mood took them, there might be a certain amount of outrage.

Possibly even profanity.

Dark Archive

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Tonya Woldridge wrote:
I don't have a timeline on updates from the Paizo executive team, but I did want to take a moment to confirm discussions are ongoing and they are still actively involved in reviewing feedback/messages/issues.

I personally appreciate updates like this, and understand that change takes time. I like knowing that this is something Paizo has recognized as needing time and energy, and I look forward to seeing more.


TwilightKnight wrote:
So, its been what, three weeks since the Baby Ruth hit the fan? How long exactly does it take for the executive team to sit down in a room together and commit itself to respecting and supporting their staff?!? I mean words are gonna be lost on me anyway (I want to see actual action over time), but the fact that the only action to be taken so far is to say "we're talking about it" is so incredibly ludicrous it's insulting to anyone with a functional brain.

Ok at this point it's just killing me so I have to ask. What's your angle? Normally one doesn't ask for accountability of themselves

Grand Lodge

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Maybe because I've seen these incidents occur first-hand for years and their response is consistent poor. As a volunteer leader in org play I had multiple opportunities to work with Paizo on investigations of harassment, etc. and their standard response was to "talk about it" for months and either take no action, or take so little action that it was not particularly meaningful. The silence time was adequate for the outrage to subside so they could quietly avoid having to take a stand or deal with any conflict. There are some people at Paizo who are very devoted to inclusion and such matters, primarily in the creative staff, but there is also a number of them in management who simply lack the ability or willingness to deal with these issues and routinely take an "ignore it and it'll go away" approach to resolution.

I was largely unable to say these things when I was a volunteer leader as I had a commitment to supporting Paizo and promoting them. Since I resigned, I no longer have that commitment. As someone said up thread, a lot of these incidents go by the community unawares and only when obnoxiously insistent people like myself speak up does it make the rounds. I was lied to repeatedly and more often than not, left to deal with incidents in their org play community with little to no support from Paizo.

Dark Archive

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"I was largely unable to say these things"

Unable? Or unwilling? I, for one, put my money where my mouth was and resigned after ONE incident. Not "years."


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I don't think it's appropriate or fair to compare your decisions to those of someone you don't know under circumstances you don't know.

Silver Crusade

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
I don't think it's appropriate or fair to compare your decisions to those of someone you don't know under circumstances you don't know.

David DOES know about at least one of the incidents. He was a Venture Officer reporting to TwilightKnight and both were involved in the incident that led David to resign. He speaks from experience.

Horizon Hunters

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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
pauljathome wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
I don't think it's appropriate or fair to compare your decisions to those of someone you don't know under circumstances you don't know.
David DOES know about at least one of the incidents. He was a Venture Captain reporting to Twilight Knight. He speaks from experience.

I didn’t think we were supposed to name people who are using an alias.

Silver Crusade

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Mark Stratton wrote:
pauljathome wrote:
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
I don't think it's appropriate or fair to compare your decisions to those of someone you don't know under circumstances you don't know.
David DOES know about at least one of the incidents. He was a Venture Captain reporting to Bob. He speaks from experience.
I didn’t think we were supposed to name people who are using an alias.

I thought TwilightKnights real identity was well known. If I was wrong about that I apologize. I've edited my post to remove TKs real name and to slightly hide things.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber

I keep my name in my profile, but that's my choice. (also, quotes should be updated.)


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In the thread where a lot of the discussion is about how it is bad to dox people, someone gets doxxed.

It's just a first name, but the irony is still there.

Dark Archive

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Tender Tendrils wrote:

In the thread where a lot of the discussion is about how it is bad to dox people, someone gets doxxed.

It's just a first name, but the irony is still there.

Eh. A simple post history delve will reveal both their and my name. There was a time where VOs could not post under anything other than their real name.


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Leg o' Lamb wrote:
Tender Tendrils wrote:

In the thread where a lot of the discussion is about how it is bad to dox people, someone gets doxxed.

It's just a first name, but the irony is still there.

Eh. A simple post history delve will reveal both their and my name. There was a time where VOs could not post under anything other than their real name.

Maybe that changed for a reason and the site should do better about scrubbing real names?

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Master Han Del of the Web wrote:
Leg o' Lamb wrote:
Tender Tendrils wrote:

In the thread where a lot of the discussion is about how it is bad to dox people, someone gets doxxed.

It's just a first name, but the irony is still there.

Eh. A simple post history delve will reveal both their and my name. There was a time where VOs could not post under anything other than their real name.
Maybe that changed for a reason and the site should do better about scrubbing real names?

Maybe? That would require several years worth of posts to edit, replies/quotes, and what have you. Most of us from that era accepted it and moved on.

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