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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Silver Crusade

Master Han Del of the Web wrote:
Leg o' Lamb wrote:
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?

That policy only ever applied to posts in the Organized Play forums and I'm pretty sure it still DOES apply there just by glancing at recent posts.

Grand Lodge

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

Honestly, I couldn't care less. For years I went out of my way to make sure my identity was as available as possible and I have not made any efforts to isolate myself from that since resigning. So, for a lot of people, especially those familiar with org play, my identity is about as private as Ironman's.

Dark Archive

Leg o' Lamb wrote:
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.

I’m trying to remember the reason why it changed and when. I’ve had a few wet ones so my memory is a bit hazy.

Grand Lodge

pauljathome wrote:
That policy only ever applied to posts in the Organized Play forums and I'm pretty sure it still DOES apply there just by glancing at recent posts.

Only if you post using your primary avatar. If you post under an alias, it does not reveal your name directly, though a user could simply link back to your homepage to see your other alias. That is something you agree to when you volunteer so its not like anyone is being forced to reveal their identity. If you want to be a "private citizen" then don't volunteer to be a "public figure" ie venture-officer

Silver Crusade

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The issues that have been raised been spelled out frequently, with you and others constantly crashing the conversations so forgive me for not taking you as sincere.

Trans women were not allowed to room with cis women, even though said cis woman did not object to the potential rooming setup. Paizo has been utterly silent on this save for issuing a statement to the affect of "we're now requiring all employees to use single rooms" without actually commenting on the issue that would prompt such a response. Was there a transphobic rooming policy in place, yes or no? That's what we're asking.

As for the doxxing, why are you okay with it? It wasn't a "whoops", they had to go and get that info, can you say you're okay with employees going into your account and posting your personal info online to win an argument against you?

"and then they got a stern talking to and shown the error of their ways"

This is a complete fairy tale fabrication of no substance, people concocting justifications or outcomes with no basis doesn't make them true, no matter how often they get repeated.

"and that was end of issue yes?"

Why are you okay with employees revealing your personal info and using it against you out of pettiness and anger?


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I'm on the verge of heading to bed, but really quick bullet points to hopefully save someone who isn't too sleepy to get crabby the trouble:

1. The room policy is transphobic because not only does it imply that trans women are somehow dangerous or alien to cis women, it has the consequence of banning trans employees from conventions, which has a deeply deleterious impact on their networking opportunities.

2. Crystal, the trans employee in question, was not given a separate room. She was simply not allowed to go to conventions.

3. Cis is not an insult unless you think trans is an insult.

4. In all fairness, Jeff did it twice. That's a pattern. He did stop after the second time, but only limply apologized after a week of posters telling him he'd acted extremely inappropriately.


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Firstly, it is generally considered offensive to use the word "transgendered". It implies that being transgender is something that happened to us instead of being just who we are. It is also just very grammatically incorrect (it is equivalent to called a white person "whited" or a black person "blacked"). Use transgender or trans instead.

Cis isn't an insult, it just exists because the alternative is to say "normal" when referring to non-trans people. It's very othering when the group that dominates the culture gets to be the assumed default.

It can seem insulting sometimes, but that is just because we as trans people often have to describe bad behaviour that we are the targets of, and 90% of the time it is cis people who are the ones behaving badly towards us. When we say "we get hurt by cis people" we aren't saying all cis people are bad. We are saying that trans people generally don't harass or be transphobic towards other trans people (because being trans isn't very compatible with being transphobic for obvious reasons), so by process of elimination, most of the cases of transphobia and harassment are coming from cis people. This is why trans people often have an attitude of wariness towards cis people we don't know. We generally aren't assuming you are bad just because you are cis, we are just taking the safer route of "I need to be careful until I find out if you are going to hurt me or not".

Most trans people I have met, and I am included in this, live in constant fear of harassment. We grow up seeing trans people used as a punchline to bad jokes or being portrayed as villains in visual media. We often have to educate everyone we meet and are often subjected to intrusive questions where we have to justify our existence to complete strangers. This often leads to an attitude of wariness towards cis people that we don't know, because we have to be safe.

Why the change to a single room is a problem has been very thoroughly explained. Imagine if there was a hotel where people of colour weren't allowed to use the bathroom, the people of colour raised a fuss about it, so the hotel says "everyone gets a private bathroom! (and we will raise the cost of a room 25% to pay for it).

This whole affair has been really hard on the trans community on these forums, because we can't have a conversation about someone doing something transphobic without having to also have to educate everyone about everything to do with being trans, and dealing with a bunch of people debating us on whether we get to exist or not. But those of us who do speak up often don't feel like we can step away from the discussions regardless of how draining it all is, because we know that there are probably dozens of other trans people who are too afraid or don't have the energy to do this stuff who are silently being hurt by this stuff.


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For anyone who needs it: “cis” is short for cisgender, the opposite of transgender - those who identify with the gender assigned to them at birth.

It comes from Latin, meaning “on the same side as.” The Romans divided the territory of Gaul based on what side of the Alps they were on; Cisalpine Gaul and Transalpine Gaul. It’s not hateful, it’s a descriptive academic term arising out of a need for those who aren’t trans that isn’t loaded the way something like “normal” might be.


18 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

One of the problems is that there’s lots of problems:

The president revealed a posters real name.

There have been allegations of discrimination against trans employees.

A very competent community manager was demoted and then fired from her customer manager role.

Several employees have quit over the years due to what they consider to be exploitative practises and an attitude amongst exec of “you’re lucky to work here don’t like it? Go get another job”

There have been many issues regarding individuals raised by Jessica Price that I won’t list here but which can be found on Twitter easily enough.

Some of us care about these various issues to differing degrees and Paizo (and various high ups at Paizo speaking individually) has responded to some of the above but not others.

The reason we keep posting about it is that we still care and the issues still haven’t been resolved. As customers and community members we have three avenues: our purchasing habits, our correspondence with the company and our public statements on the forums.

I totally get people not caring. I don’t really get why you’d post to say “I don’t care” though (well, maybe once, I guess).

If you find these threads annoying there is a little circle next to the thread you can click over next to the number of posts and you won’t see it any more.


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@Tender Tendrils: Nice encapsulation of the specifics of the present furore and the general nature of the damage of ignorance, both wilful and…whatever the other kind is.

In solidarity.

@Paizo: Still waiting for meaningful communication.

Grand Lodge

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Is it just me or does anyone else feel a bit "icky" the way Paizo seems to be conducting business as usual while there is such a black-cloud hanging over them? I know they have to continue to operate their business, and part of PR/marketing is to always seek to improve a company's image, but I got a sudden and unexpected sick-to-my-stomach feeling as I read the recent posts/threads advertising all the opportunities we have to give Paizo more of our money while nothing public nor meaningful has happened to correct and/or prevent future occurrences of bad (some would say criminal) behavior.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Paulyhedron wrote:
Personally would love a single room to myself while traveling but that’s not here nor there.

Right, but the single room policy was announced weeks ago, at the time the employee simply wasn’t allowed to go to the conference on the company’s behalf.

“Paulthedron” wrote:
Pretty sure the talking to thing had be mentioned prior, could be wrong. Via other employees

Can you direct us to such a post where it is revealed that one of the two owners gave the president of the company a “talking to” about this?

“Paulyhedron” wrote:
Not ok with it but dealt with it, (employers, employees) might explain the blasé attitude towards it, doesn’t excuse it however, I’m fairly forgiving. Once. Don’t do it again, be better.

Except, as has been stated more than once already, Jeff did do it a second time.

For someone who repeatedly claims to be tired of reading this thread, you sure are responding like this is your first time seeing some of it.


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I'm so sick of this. Our trans friends do not owe anyone an explanation, about anything. They shouldn't have to keep "justifying" themselves.

Moderators: I know you're low on numbers following SM's firing and Diego resigning in protest; and you're probably low on morale because of all the dust kicked up following said firing/departure; but it's not acceptable for all these losers to keep smearing their transphobia across this forum.

"But I was just asking a que-"

No. You weren't. And even if you were, you are not entitled to an answer.


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.

Its a valid question to be asking. I often get a headache trying to figure out what the hell was going on regards to Organized Play.

Quote:
The other involved sleeping arrangements at cons? What am I missing?

What makes you think there weren't other incidents involving Crystal Fraiser and transphobia?

Grand Lodge

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Wandering Wastrel wrote:
you are not entitled to an answer.

I don't think most think they are, but part of the learning process is asking questions and getting answers from people who know those answers. I, for one am overjoyed that Tender Tendrils took the time to provide some insight and perspective that is helpful to those of us lacking the trans experience. It helps us progress towards a time when this conversation becomes superfluous.

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Wandering Wastrel wrote:

I'm so sick of this. Our trans friends do not owe anyone an explanation, about anything. They shouldn't have to keep "justifying" themselves.

Moderators: I know you're low on numbers following SM's firing and Diego resigning in protest; and you're probably low on morale because of all the dust kicked up following said firing/departure; but it's not acceptable for all these losers to keep smearing their transphobia across this forum.

"But I was just asking a que-"

No. You weren't. And even if you were, you are not entitled to an answer.

I've developed a stress response to seeing the phrase "just asking questions".

Acquisitives

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Tender Tendrils wrote:
Wisdom..

Ty will adjust correct language accordingly for correctness.

Silver Crusade

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Wandering Wastrel wrote:
I'm so sick of this. Our trans friends do not owe anyone an explanation, about anything.

Totally agreed.

This discussion brought up a few things I was ignorant of (I'm cis and have no really close trans friends/family but definitely consider myself a trans supporter).

But the way I found answers to those questions was NOT to ask here, it was to instead google the answer.

So, one GOOD thing from all this discussion, at least one cis person now knows more about trans issues than he did before :-). All WITHOUT demanding explanations from this community.

Acquisitives

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
dirtypool wrote:


Except, as has been stated more than once already, Jeff did do it a second time.

For someone who repeatedly claims to be tired of reading this thread, you sure are responding like this is your first time seeing some of it.

Some of it is the first time. I do recall when this whole thing happened everyone was mad someone got let go and another left.

Oh. (On the hotel policy.), totally misread that. Thought they offered separate rooms way back when, not ‘nah you gotta go home’ .

Hadn’t read the bit about a second doxxing. If that’s legit then yeah hand him his walking papers. That’s gross

Thanks for catching me up, wasn’t going to go through 600 replies when 99% of it was lamentations, some of which is apparently justified


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They cannot just suddenly put everything and anything on hold to try and fix the Judie’s they have. Bills and employees need to get paid. Books produced and sent off to the printers.

I’m not being dismissive though expected them not to fix anything immediately. Neither can anyone realistic expect that Paizo as a business would or should come to a grinding halt either. Blizzard is still doing their thing as a business even with their disturbing bad behaviour has come to light.

Whether we like it or not they are going to keep moving on as a business and hopefully fix things on their end.

Silver Crusade

11 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
TwilightKnight wrote:
Wandering Wastrel wrote:
you are not entitled to an answer.
I don't think most think they are, but part of the learning process is asking questions and getting answers from people who know those answers. I, for one am overjoyed that Tender Tendrils took the time to provide some insight and perspective that is helpful to those of us lacking the trans experience. It helps us progress towards a time when this conversation becomes superfluous.

The thing is, trans people get asked these same questions over and over and over again. The tools to get those answers without demanding it of the specific trans person you're talking to at the time are available at your fingertips. You can google something without putting the trans person through the trauma of explaining it for the hundredth time. Often times people are just couching their language to be "asking questions" because they want you to have to justify your existence and it's exhausting. I should never have to justify my existence, and yet, I have to every single day I take a breath.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

99% of it hasn't been lamentations, it's been the detailed discussion where these facts have been brought up.

If, as a participant of this and the other threads, I would have to assign percentages to the content it would go about like this:

70% Active Engagement

15% People arguing against the existence of the thread

10% People complaining about the torch bearing pithchfork bearers.

5% pitchforks.

The fact that you can't pull out salient details that have been the primary talking points of multiple threads just shows you're not actively engaging with them to see what is being discussed, you're just reflixively decrying them as something that they aren't.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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So I only just heard about all of this (I keep these particular subforums closed by default and just caught a glimpse of a reference to this elsewhere). Knowing how very little and how very late this is, I just want to say something on the whole various series of things. I understand this thread has veered more toward some specific issues, and there may be a better thread for some of what I have to say, but I'm not sure what is still open and unlocked, so I'm saying this here, and if you think it's in the wrong thread please flag it. What I have to say is sort of a blanket to response of *waves* all of this, so I am spoilering my response so those who are in the middle of a specific conversation are not majorly disrupted:

Spoiler:

Regarding the firing that seemed to trigger off all the other conversations: This community and company is much worse off without Sara Marie and Diego. Sara Marie in particular I appreciate many interactions we had and help I got from her. Both were beacons of light and this place will be much darker without them. I wish them both every happiness moving forward. My heart goes out to the rest of the community support squad and trust they will fill in those shoes with distinction.

Also, f$*# anyone who causes Sara Marie anger or distress for any reason, let alone who tries to capitalize on what's happened to her for their own self-serving, attention-seeking gain. I will not say anything on that further.

Of the issues raised by Crystal, who I've always had a great deal of respect for, and trans* members of the community: I am still not fully informed about all this (there's still stuff I've missed and I've not read through all of these threads yet) but I am appalled there were (as of three or four years ago) transphobic practices in place. It's awful. It sounds to me like Paizo has made improvements on this since but still have a long way to go. I want things to be better, but I don't know how to say that in a way that doesn't feel impotent and helpless. I hope the voices that need to be heard are heard. Otherwise I don't feel informed enough to comment further on this.

I'm not going to make a grand statement about how this company should operate going forward; that's not my area of expertise. Paizo knows they need to improve, and either they will and thus will grow in their success, or they won't and will eventually collapse. I will say as a former freelance editor I was well-treated and always felt listened to when I pointed out potentially problematic text (but I was well removed from central office activities). I'm still proud my name is printed on the masthead of several books among many other great people and will remain so. (I only stopped being a freelancer because I got a new job where I needed more flexible hours and screen time for that.)

I've not bought Paizo products in years simply for entirely personal reasons (2E isn't for me, and I love Starfinder but no one around here plays it; I haven't found many Starfinder games to get into; and, even though I adore them, I had to stop buying the maps because my apartment would soon just become one giant map storage bin). So saying I'm starting a boycott, even if I wanted to, would be meaningless.

I have faith that Paizo has the potential to make things better going forward. I pray they do all they can to fulfill it and that those efforts are long lasting and continuous. My sense is that Paizo is, like all collections of humans, vastly imperfect, and like me, a holder of ideals it fails to live up to but keeps trying. My perception is Paizo has generally improved over the years and is a much better company than when it started out, so I think there's a good chance it will continue to get better, especially as obviously its community is very willing to hold it accountable. This said, if I'm not happy how things continue, I know where the door is.

I know in many ways I am responding to old news and am mentioning some things other grew tired of talking about weeks ago. I had totally missed all this happened when it did. The day the news broke I was desperately scrambling to get work done before going on vacation and then, well, I went on vacation and I firmly believe vacation means a break from the Internet. Also, I long ago decided my sanity was much better off by reducing interaction with people on the Internet as much as possible; I am a much better person when I am not letting Someone Being Wrong On the Internet getting to me, and avoidance is the best way for me with my aneurotypical brain to accomplish this. So I have no social media accounts and post to nothing online anymore except at these boards, and I only have the PBP and certain Gamer Talk subforums open by default for view. Overall on the boards I wish folks here would engage in more "real, nuanced conversation" and less "bitter-argument-to-the-ends-of-the-earth-where-people-think-they-have-to-' win,'" and I wish I would do better serving as an example of that. I will continue to try--if Sara Marie's gone, then I need to work twice as hard to behave and do better and serve as a healthier pattern for (what very little) community interaction I engage in. I expect, as I often do, I will fail, but I will learn from that and try again. As part of ensuring I will behave, I will not post further to this thread. I just felt I needed to say something, especially as my heart hurts hearing all that's happened.

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