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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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

As for the office cleanliness- the issue wasn’t the vacuuming of the carpet so much as it was the vacuuming of the air intake for the air conditioning system. The filter becomes clogged, dust and other particulate builds up and then flows freely through the entire air system.

Liberty's Edge

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dirtypool wrote:

As for the office cleanliness- the issue wasn’t the vacuuming of the carpet so much as it was the vacuuming of the air intake for the air conditioning system. The filter becomes clogged, dust and other particulate builds up and then flows freely through the entire air system.

What most people don't know is that the building isn't owned by Paizo and the actual management/owners/landlords of it were the ones able to, liable for, and capable of actually getting the building cleaned professionally as they simply rent the space, and as I understand it those building managers/owners were not at ALL receptive to the idea of hiring an expensive professional cleaning service for a few rooms or getting a proper HVAC company to do the upkeep on the air system despite appeals by staff to have it done and included in what the owners of the building did do for regular maintenance.

While it's one thing to vacuum an area, maybe use some cleaning agent, scrub, and dust that's not at all what needed doing, they needed the "infrastructure" cleaned, repaired, and components replaced which is something that a renter is simply not supposed to do on their own.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Kobold Cleaver wrote:
Paizo remains a for-profit, privately-owned company, and is not publicly traded. Some have suggested implementing varying levels of workplace democracy or employee ownership, pursuing a nonprofit model, increasing the cost of some or all products, soliciting donations via some sort of tip jar system, or selling the golem for scrap metal. Okay, nobody's suggested the last one yet.

Jessica Redekop also floated another idea in a different thread. Re-posting so it doesn't get lost in the aether.

Jessica Redekop wrote:

Paizo employees have friends, families, partners with their own careers, and a myriad other concerns that make packing up and moving the whole operation and everyone inolved to a different state not only a challenge, but also a horrible thing to ask of employees.

What would be better is allowing remote work. Currently, some employees can work remotely, while others are forced to relocate. The pandemic has proven to us that these people all CAN remote work; the designers, editors, and other staff all have been, and the work is all getting done. The books are coming out. If all staff were afforded the same opportunity to choose remote work, they could choose for themselves if they wish to live in WA, or somewhere else where their paycheque stretches further. It also removes the burden of moving costs on new hires and makes the job postings more accessible to minority developers, and eliminates hours of commute time for staff who live in WA but can't afford housing in Redmond close to the office.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

If the rental company is not meeting it’s obligations for standard/periodic maintenance that does not absolve Paizo of responsibility. Occupational Safety and Health Standards are the responsibility of the employer, which would make it Paizo’s job to advocate on their employees behalf to have the work completed, negotiate with the owner to allow it to occur, or ultimately seek an alternate location.

As this was stated as an ongoing issue for a number of years, the indication here is that the bottom line was placed above health and safety compliance.

Silver Crusade

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keftiu wrote:
Not dating in the workplace is something I was taught at my first seasonal job when I was 19. Just saying.

The usual standard I've seen up here in the computing industry in Canada (in companies of pretty much all sizes) is essentially "no dating when one of the parties is subordinate to the other or there is some other massive power inbalance between the two parties". Dating between colleagues has otherwise been considered acceptable.

That being said, anything approximating unwanted advances are very, very unacceptable. One has to make the first overtures subtly and back off very, very quickly if they're not reciprocated :-) :-)

Liberty's Edge

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So you don't want answers from people who actually know things, you just want to complain. Fine, I'm done trying to help educate people about what really went down.

Good luck with your continued brigade.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Themetricsystem wrote:

So you don't want answers from people who actually know things, you just want to complain. Fine, I'm done trying to help educate people about what really went down.

Good luck with your continued brigade.

That wasn’t a complaint, that was clarity from someone else who actually knows things about OSHA regulations and the legal responsibilities of employers.

“The building owner wouldn’t perform maintenance on the air handlers” wouldn’t be a valid liability shield if god forbid someone had become permanently disabled due to job site bronchial deformation.

Dark Archive

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Themetricsystem wrote:
So you don't want answers from people who actually know things, you just want to complain.

This from you is absolutely adorable.


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We’re coming up on a month since things first blew up and our only official communication is one that refused to even admit there were transphobia allegations, dancing around it while offering a context-less change to hotel policy. I’m not happy.

As I’ve said before, for a company whose brand is so tightly enmeshed with queer representation, the silence is deafening - and damning. The longer this goes on, the more used I feel.

It’s one thing to say that change takes time; I understand that, and am realistic about how quickly a corporation can move. But it’s another thing entirely to refuse to even admit what the problem is, one that makes management look cowardly at best and outright transphobic at worst.

I hope to hear from Jeff again soon, and I hope he has the spine to admit when his company has hurt a demographic it gladly uses for progressive marketing. Healing and rebuilding trust can’t begin otherwise.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I fully agree with everything Kobold Cleaver and Keftiu have said. Its depressing that we're still not hearing much aside from "we are having internal discussions" even if it may be true. I may not have the energy to keep up with all the transphobic comments for the sake of my own mental health but I wanted to thank the people who are continuing to voice their concerns and do the right thing, hopefully this will result in the positive change we hope to see


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

"Good luck with your continued brigade"

Honestly that just makes this sound way cooler than it actually is, we're just commenting on a forum but I like the imagery!

Dark Archive

keftiu wrote:
Not dating in the workplace is something I was taught at my first seasonal job when I was 19. Just saying.

Workplace relationships are a Paizo staple.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Is it? That's kind of weird...


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It happens in small companies. My take on workplace relationships is;

1# If there is a power differential, it is probably inappropriate
2# You need to be careful even if there isn't a power differential to not treat that person preferentially, and HR really needs to keep an eye out for that.
3# It is inappropriate for someone in a relationship to be involved in hiring/firing/promotion/etc type decisions regarding the person they are in a relationship with.

Otherwise, I think it is generally fine to go nuts so long as you are following policies, though it may not be advisable as you have to keep working with that person if you break up, and it means you don't get any space from each other while in the relationship (which can be important).


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I think keftiu's point--not to put words in her mouth--was that dating in the workplace is, objectively speaking, a bad idea, even if it's not unethical. So I think we all agree.


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Themetricsystem wrote:
So you don't want answers from people who actually know things, you just want to complain. Fine, I'm done trying to help educate people about what really went down.

I’m pretty disappointed that this is your response to dirtypool’s comments after yours. From my point of ciew, you were both clarifying OSHA/ownership vs. renting minutiae. And yet, it seems, you are incensed that dirtypool…what? Continued your lime of thought? Because yes, what you said may in fact be true, but that isn’t the end of it. Abrogating responsibility by saying, to quote Ben Elton “It’s not my toilet” (and we don’t even know IIRC if that’s what managememt did) isn’t a sovereign cure.

So why is it that you are upset? It truly seems as if you have a partisan position and any comment that doesn’t completely align is also an oppositional factional brigade trumpet.

I’m definitely the type of person who can be swayed, sometimes even by myself by the time I’ve finished speaking a sentence. But mostly, I’m big on process. Which helps me to be moderate. I don’t hide the fact that I have almost always found Paizo’s corporate mien irritating and suffering from usual small business perils. But I like to think I can see at least three sides of a coin.

Grand Lodge

Lonesomechunk wrote:
Is it? That's kind of weird...

Yep. If you follow Paizo close enough over the years there is a very high rate of interoffice romance. I cannot recall a case of supervisor/subordinate, but its possible it happened. All the ones I can recall were people from different departments.

Speaking of, correct me if I am wrong, but Sara Marie is/was married to Gary Teter in IT. I recall a lot of celebration when they welcomed their child a few years back. If that is true, did Gary quit Paizo as well? Has he made any public statement? Just wondering.


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Gary Teter is still an employee at Paizo as far as I can tell. I don't think their relationship status should be treated as a factor in these matters, but I am given to understand they separated some years ago.


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

I step away for a couple of days to read some PDF's and see what the team has been producing. Come back to check on what is going on and about 100 posts later I see some great posts, and some less than stellar commentary.

Kobold Cleaver, keeping things on track is hard and I see you doing a great job at it. Your summarization of the doxxing is extremely high level though. Appreciate that you linked to the doxxing, but so many posts were deleted during that time it is hard to really understand just how violating it was at the time. The doxxed community members either created new accounts or just left the community around the time it happened if that gives any indication of just how messed up it was.

Here is a link back to my original post for anyone wanting to read why people even know it occurred and my view on what happened. Why I gave him a pass at the time and why the pass has been revoked.

https://paizo.com/threads/rzs43h04&page=7?Staff-Change-Update-from-Paiz o-President-Jeff#335

Go to Clickified

Again, thank you to everyone keeping this on track.

On to my current thoughts.

I don't really care if someone says that we as a community aren't owed an explanation as to why Sara Marie was fired. I don't care if people are demanding if people in the LGTBQ+ community give their entire life story to help them understand why transphobia is wrong and institutionalized transphobia is horrifying.

I appreciate and respect when people give their stories of their own free will. I love them for having the pool of energy to dive into and risk being harrassed, othered and being told they are wrong for sharing a piece of their soul. It is a risk, they know it is a risk and we definitely do not deserve it. We have done nothing to earn it. It is a gift and anyone who makes someone feel bad for risking their hearts to help educate others should do some introspective healing.

That is the kindest thing I can say about that I think. I re wrote it about 5 times.

We as a community are owed an explanation for past injustices both to the employees fired and the employees who were discriminated against. Why? Because we invest in the company Paizo has created and they should invest in the community they foster.

This isn't some blanket statement. I am currently reading the Grand Bazaar this morning and I have come across the beautiful piece of writing. I encourage each of you to find a way to read it.

Spoilers ahead, small ones, but spoilers none the less.

Paizo Profiting off the Trans community:
I get to page 82 of the Grand Bazaar and I see a beautiful piece of art work and I move to the next page. I am not reading it word for word but as I get to page 84 I see the title of the store front

The Resplendant Rose Wares

I look at the items listed and I think to myself that these are items my trans kid would be extremely interested in. I keep readin the descriptions and I think to myself, this is a gay store.

I go back a page and read up on the stores keeper

Melodic Joy. a NG female elf bard. I read her story. Her story of gender dysphoria and how she has overcome great personal strife and obstacles to understand who she is and who she is becoming.

How under an oppressive god she felt that beauty was a myth and it wasn't until she was exposed to new ways of thinking that she came to understand her true beauty and her desire to share that with others.

Not that she is trans, but they can also share in the beautiful things in life. I am paraphrasing here. You could run this shop with her as the keeper and never even mention to the players that she is Trans and you would be able to run it perfectly in the game. Your players would never need know if they did not have the desire to get to know the NPC's. The game master would know though and would know that this NPC's back story came at a cost. Someone, a real human behind this character put their energy, their creative direction. They imbued her in a way that is beautiful and magical and inclusive.


Paizo creatives are getting this right.

Paizo the company is profiting off of those creatives getting it right.

Paizo owes it to their creatives to do better. In the light of day. Paizo is asking for those of us who flocked to 2e because of its inclusiveness to continue supporting the product they make.

I separate the product from the company. This is wonderful work. Thank you for including nuggets like this for me to find. For me to include. To make them canon in our adventures and not have to find a way to make it more inclusive.

That is, just.... thank you.

Paizo. Do better. Show us you are doing better. Accountability starts at the top and if the people at the top are not visibly being held accountable I am not sure people like me will be able to continue supporting your company no matter how fantastic your product is.

Spent about 1k on your product this month alone. My wallets voice may not be extremely damaging. But alot of people like me all letting their wallets speak at once will be.

Currently giving until the end of this AP cycle to see movement and then I will re evaluate my subscriptions.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Lonesomechunk wrote:
Is it? That's kind of weird...

I mean it goes as high as Vic and Lisa *shrug*


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Cori Marie wrote:
Lonesomechunk wrote:
Is it? That's kind of weird...
I mean it goes as high as Vic and Lisa *shrug*

I worked at a company that explicitly forbade fraternizing at the work place.

The president married the sales vp.

Then HR pointed out that they were opening themselves to a different set of lawsuits and the policy was removed.

People were already doing it. Now they would just do it in the light of day. To my knowledge harassments were handled with a heavy hand but for people who entered and ended workplace relationships nothing bad came of it.

But yea. If the owner of the company has a relationship with someone who works at the company? You can't really codify that it isn't allowed.


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keftiu wrote:

We’re coming up on a month since things first blew up and our only official communication is one that refused to even admit there were transphobia allegations, dancing around it while offering a context-less change to hotel policy. I’m not happy.

Its actually longer than that in regards to transphobia. I know for a fact that they were aware of that issue from at least August 29th. Maybe not that issue persay but a different incident where a Venture Agents behavior was both scaring me and her.

Edit
Funnily enough it was this very nice exact issue of transphobes dominating the forums
Edit:
For the record Organized Play handled it really well but Paizo needed to get involved because the forums shouldn't be used as a vector to harass people

Wayfinders Contributor

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This whole period has been very hard for me. Paizo's games and trans representation helped me during a period when I realized that all my child's friends were non-binary or trans. And then I wondered if this meant that maybe my kid had something they needed to tell me. The games helped this middle-aged Cis woman reach out to her child, and ask the question, "What are your pronouns? Would you like to talk with me about this?" The fact that I was GMing -- and then writing -- gaming material that included trans and non-binary characters helped me and my kid communicate about the sensitive topic of their own changing gender identity.

Paizo's writing and art and inclusivity is something wondrous, and I was hurt when I discovered that it wasn't always echoed in how the company treated its real world employees. I do not know how far in the past the issues were with Crystal Frasier not getting a room at GenCon. And the whole carpet thing... And then having a workplace where someone could make disparaging trans and gay phobic comments... These were things that should have been dealt with quickly by management. The health and safety of employees matters.

I don't know how long it took to correct these issues. I know that even the best people are people who make mistakes. But... I just kept thinking, what if it were my kid who had been told, "You can't go take part in this wonderful career building opportunity because we are worried that others might be uncomfortable around you." I'd tell those people to take a flying leap. I would be the biggest, angriest mama bear around.

I want to be purchasing wonderful inclusive games by a company that also practices inclusion in the real world. Paizo, please. Treat your employees better. Listen to their complaints. Allow remote work, and don't structure their lives so that they are always exhausted and in eternal overtime. Moreover, embrace the diversity in the real world that you celebrate in your creative work.

There are two ways to face a corporate crisis. The first is to make comforting statements and hope that it all blows over. That works sometimes, allowing a company to keep producing their products, but it has the disadvantage that it does not really fix what broke in their first place. This means that it will break again.

The second way is to use the crisis as an opportunity to fix what was broken. Look at what went wrong, and make meaningful changes as you move forward. I love Paizo. I am a former Venture Captain, current freelancer and all around Paizo booster. I love your games. So please, take this as a statement of love and affirmation when I say, I want you to do better. You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to fix everything tomorrow. But figure out what you need to change, and start taking steps to make things better for the people who work for you.

Yours Sincerely,
Hmm

Acquisitives

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Powerful statement there.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

Thanks, Hilary. My sole role at Paizo is customer and not a creator, but you really succinctly captured how I’ve been feeling too.


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I want to be clear: I really, really love Pathfinder. It sucks to not be able to buy Guns & Gears (finally an Arcadia map!) of Strength of Thousands #4 (a closer look at Mzali!) because it currently feels like allowing systemic transphobia to go rewarded.

I hate being here. Please, say something soon, and let it be the right thing.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
Thanks, Hilary. My sole role at Paizo is customer and not a creator, but you really succinctly captured how I’ve been feeling too.

Ditto.


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I have been watching this for the last month and it gets more frustrating every week. The waves of transphobia bubbling up at regular intervals is bad enough, but that we have arrived at the point where kind people like kobold cleaver are now patiently explaining why transphobic strategies are bad actually leaves me torn somewhere between fatigue and anger with Paizo.

How cruel to make people endure abuse just to hold the space open for you to do something meaningful.

I just like being trans. I like the way it makes me feel, I like the way living with that in the forefront has led me to communities of creators whose work reflects that back to me. Some of Pathfinder's world building participates in that, which is cool because I really like its mechanics, too. The game I have been running for the last 18 months has been a bright spot in a really rough stretch.

But when we're talking about how company treats its trans employees, let's be real clear about what the stakes are. Trans people experience the sorts of pervasive bias that makes it difficult for us to thrive professionally. Many trans people experience stretches of unemployment and underemployment that contribute to long, sometimes lifelong, struggles with precarity.

A full-time job with any sort of professional mobility is one of the few real bulwarks many of us have against that. Undercutting a trans woman's ability to participate in professional development because of her being trans exposes her further to that precarity and makes your organization complicit with that pervasive, dare I say systemic, abuse. If you can't be clear how you have thoroughly addressed that, then I can't believe these bland "we don't discriminate" statements.

You should thoroughly address that; I still hope that you will.

I appreciate the trans representation within the system and the setting, as I appreciate the contributions of trans people to the system and setting. I appreciate the trans voices in the community, too. I wouldn't have been quite so ready to jump into the system if they hadn't been there when I started looking for them.

But right now all that occurs against the backdrop of at least one trans employee being undercut professionally and, very much in the present, trans community members being exposed to heaps of transphobia and ignored. How much further does this sort of negligence extend into the company and community?

I don't know, but the silence makes me think it is deeper and broader than what I can see. Because that is usually how this works. I would like for that to be addressed and since the community is part of the whole situation, you can't address it without addressing the community.

I don't know yet if I'll stop buying Paizo products, but my enthusiasm for them has flagged beneath the weight of this. My financial situation had improved enough that I was thinking of treating myself to a subscription, but that doesn't appeal to me anymore. I was excited at the idea of maybe participating in this current playtest, but as the weeks have gone by without response and as trans people actively holding space for it are subject to the petty transphobic cruelties, I lost interest in that, too.

Not the first thing I wanted to post about, honestly, but I can't see much of a way forward to ever posting here if I didn't say it.


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I don't have time to post a full reply right now, but I wanted to thank Astra and Hilary for their posts, both of which are incredibly moving and share important perspectives I'm personally deeply glad I got to read. <3


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Themetricsystem wrote:
So you don't want answers from people who actually know things, you just want to complain. Fine, I'm done trying to help educate people about what really went down.

*Willy Wonka 'wait stop come back'.gif*


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Steve Geddes wrote:
Thanks, Hilary. My sole role at Paizo is customer and not a creator, but you really succinctly captured how I’ve been feeling too.

I disagree Steve. Your role encompasses way more than being a mere customer. And that is, ironically, Paizo’s “fault”. They don’t have to have a forum, allow creators, customers, visitors, developers, owners, players, GMs, complainers and the generally quixotic a space to well - create, buy, look, tell, inform, play, narrate adjudicate and rule, complain and make random comments. Among other things. I genuinely thank Paizo for making the forums a…place. A place like no other. And yet a place that often resembles a lot of other places.

But, Steve, this place has allowed me to know you, imperfectly as it might be. But I value you and I’m sure many in this community do too. And valuing other people is important. And I hope Paizo value you too, for more than your Aussie dollar. For you frank and honest appraisals. Moderate commentary. And for believing in a better world, and wanting the best for Paizo.

They are lucky to have a considerate and impassioned community that tells them when they err. For that is what the best friends do - they don’t feed your ego, or gild the lily or urinate in your pocket. They pull you up. Like Steve and all the other folk in this thread and others are doing. Asking for Paizo to do better. And Paizo want themselves to do better every day. Right?

Dark Archive

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keftiu wrote:

I want to be clear: I really, really love Pathfinder. It sucks to not be able to buy Guns & Gears (finally an Arcadia map!) of Strength of Thousands #4 (a closer look at Mzali!) because it currently feels like allowing systemic transphobia to go rewarded.

I hate being here. Please, say something soon, and let it be the right thing.

This is where I am too.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

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Hello Community,

While Paizo takes time to acknowledge Indigenous Peoples Day, I am logging in to share what I can to alleviate the anxiety of this liminal mental space. Many of us in the Paizo community are "in-between" two places and I know that feels unsettling.

The first week was about getting through Gen Con, and about making brief initial statements showing that Paizo was aware of the multiple issues and committed to addressing them. While Paizo talked about what it has done in the past, it also talked about planned actions for the future.

Here what I can say about the last two weeks.

"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." This has been happening. I've met with my Manager and with one of the Executive team. Similar face-to-face via zoom meetings have occurred company-wide. They are listening and answering our questions.

"We are currently finalizing a job description to fill a vacant full-time HR position." This has been posted. (Post open.) I believe actions will flow out of this fresh leadership.

"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." I will tell you this number was on the wall all around the office, but since we've been working from home it was not visible. I and others called the line, tested its functionality and reported it to staff.

"We have enacted a one-employee-per-room policy that will be our standard moving forward." That policy change was immediate.

"We are extending Paizo’s existing work-from-home timeline through at least the end of the year." That policy change was immediate.

"...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." I believe Ron Lundeen, Jason Keeley, Mark Seifter, and Linda Zayas-Palmer all have manager positions that did not exist a year or so ago. While Leo Glass manages the editing team, that position is not new. These promotions were before Gen Con, but have seen the elevation of their voices as impactful in recent weeks.

"To clear up some confusion that has worked its way into the conversation, freelancer relations remains the purview of the Creative Department." The Creative Team is interacting directly with freelancers at the boots-on-the-ground Developer level.

"...we changed professional cleaning services in 2017," While the hygiene issue might be an embarrassment from many years ago (before my time), I've only heard humorous complaints in the office, when we were there, about air temperature. But the staff has had the opportunity to discuss more serious and recent issues, if they have them.

"These aren’t the only things we are doing." We've received updates from management about what else they are doing, some of which I think I can share. We are adding another person to the Org Play Dev Team (blog next week), we are adding another person to the Sales/Webstore team (post closed), we are filling the recently vacant Marketing Coordinator position (post open). We have filled an open Editor position. There are new names for us to announce at multiple levels. We are adding capacity.

"There will be more messages, and more concrete actions, to come." My manager and I have made some initial suggestions regarding data security recommended monthly official updates for the foreseeable future. I've suggested quarterly and eventually annual reports in the long term.

I am not under the illusion that the next official statement Paizo makes will be a panacea. Not everyone will agree on what is enough, but we will continue the conversation together, over time.

For now, back to the holiday and then, Adventures Ahead!

- Aaron Shanks


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The change to hotel room policy without acknowledging the systemic transphobia that prompted it is an insult. The problem wasn’t hotel rooms, it was how the hotel room policy was used to institute a material difference in how trans and cis women are treated and viewed by the company.

Any statement unwilling to tackle that is going to be one that doesn’t work for me. I’m out on Paizo products until management can at least admit transphobia happened, and anything else on the subject that doesn’t include that feels slimy as hell.


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keftiu wrote:

The change to hotel room policy without acknowledging the systemic transphobia that prompted it is an insult. The problem wasn’t hotel rooms, it was how the hotel room policy was used to institute a material difference in how trans and cis women are treated and viewed by the company.

Any statement unwilling to tackle that is going to be one that doesn’t work for me.

Yeah, that seems to be the theme of the changes Aaron's reporting. All of them basically good changes for the employees, but no acknowledgement of any of the issues driving the complaints.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

yeah, I'm glad that there's *some* silence being broken but I'd like more

Grand Lodge

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Aaron, I think most people appreciate the update and the efforts that are being made, however, they do not address what many believe is at the heart of the problems. Most of the resolutions seem to be focused on the avenues of communications, yet that is not the core problem. The very people who these avenues are directed, are the problem. What difference does it make to increase the communication between staff and mgmt, when the senior levels of mgmt appear, by all reports, to be the perpetrators of the vast majority of the incidents? Why would someone who feels they are being mistreated or disrespected report the issues to the very people who are the source of those feelings?

Paizo has a habit of conflating job roles. In past the organized play coordinator was also the marketing manager. More applicable to the current conversation is the HR rep was also the accounting manager (IIRC). I hope that the new HR rep will be a dedicated role and not required to juggle time do other tasks like editing or content creation, etc. That being said, most of us who have experience with corporate HR know that they are primarily there for (1) compliance with OSHA, DoL, etc. and (2) to protect the company from liability. The occasional individual HR rep might have the best interests of the employees in their heart, but generally that is not their role and those interests are not ahead of that of the company. So, forgive me if I do not place much value in an HR rep coming in and protecting the employees from upper mgmt. When a company's problems emanate from the upper management, the HR rep has a conflict of interest protecting their own employment.

I will reiterate the message I have had since long before recent events have brought this to a head, that being, I (and others?) will believe changes have happened when it can be PROVEN through actions that they have, not when Paizo staff SAYS what things are happening. No offense to you as I find you to be an honest person just trying to be the best rep you can for the company. Unfortunately, you represent some people who have a significant problem with accountability and credibility that is going to take a lot of time and effort to fix.

Wayfinders Contributor

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Taking steps forward with intentionality is a good first step, though. I want to honor that, and thank Aaron for making that report. They have to start this process somewhere. But yes, I am hoping that this journey includes a chance for reflection, acknowledgement and deeper change.

Yours,
Hmm

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Aaron Shanks wrote:

Hello Community,

...

Great to hear from you, but it would be great to see Paizo's voice and leadership practice what it preaches and actively take the day off on any company holiday without feeling pressure to communicate. Especially since the community has several times expressed concerns about the mental well being of overcommited to the amount of work.

Have a wonderful rest of the day

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

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Zexcir wrote:
Aaron Shanks wrote:

Hello Community,

...

Great to hear from you, but it would be great to see Paizo's voice and leadership practice what it preaches and actively take the day off on any company holiday without feeling pressure to communicate. Especially since the community has several times expressed concerns about the mental well being of overcommited to the amount of work.

Have a wonderful rest of the day

100% this. And if there is a need to communicate on a day off, then the CEO can do it. For that matter, this communication would be more meaningful if it did come from the CEO. If the executive team can't even take the time to communicate what they are doing to fix the problems, that in itself is an acknowledgement that the root problems are still present.


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I don't have anything to add for now except that I fully agree with Hmm, TwilightKnight and keftiu. I appreciate you, Aaron, for posting to give us an update.

Actually, there is one thing I've been struggling to put into words. The issue for me was never the hotel room sharing policy. The issue was the hotel room sharing policy being wielded as a weapon against trans people. Changing the policy of sharing rooms might be great and all, but Paizo has done nothing to show us it has changed the policy of weaponizing policies against its trans employees, and that's what worries me.

Any policy can be turned into a weapon. You can't cork-tip every sharp point in the house--at some point, you have to deal with whoever's using those sharp points to jab people.

This is a painful line in the sand I have to draw. If the follow-up statement doesn't address Crystal's treatment, I'm done. I don't think I can take healthy joy in a community built around the authority of people who would do something like that, enable something like that, and deny something like that. Forget the products; I don't even know if I want to stay on the forums at that point.

I do still genuinely believe that there's more on the way, that the last few weeks will see some acknowledgement, some coherent action, some level of catharsis. If there's not, it's going to be a punch in the gut.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

At this point I'm wondering what will satisfy people. What, precisely, do people want here?

Shadow Lodge

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Maybe read what they have said they want?


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Thomas Keller wrote:
At this point I'm wondering what will satisfy people. What, precisely, do people want here?

I've stated mine very clearly probably half a dozen times now: communication from the top that admits they had transphobic abuses within the company, an apology for that, and tangible change in policy or staff to ensure no trans person suffers for their identity within the company again.

Others have made their desires clear in their posts. I assume you haven't read them; it's well worth doing.


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Thomas Keller wrote:
At this point I'm wondering what will satisfy people. What, precisely, do people want here?

I wish for the umbrella that is protecting the abusers to be stripped away, and the space be made safe.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

To be fair to Aaron, what he describes that Paizo are going through are the initial stages any company would go through if they wanted to address significant cultural issues.

Cultural change is difficult and often fails. Creating policies to make the necessary changes requires expertise that just won't exist within most organisations. In addition, companies with cultural issues tend not to actually know the extent of the problem or problems.

Discussing these issues with the people you work with to draw out the problems and the hiring of a full time HR expert is really the starting point. Until this has been done they can't really start to address the problems.

Once they have spoken to their employees and the HR expertise is in place then you would expect to see changes to policy, procedures etc. As tempting as it is to go straight into problem solving mode it just doesn't work in the long run as it doesn't address the root causes.

My one concern is that there has not really been a statement from the top to set out where they stand on diversity and inclusion. Paizo constantly imply that it is their products and refer to it in blogs and forum posts but you would expect it to be up front on the website and if it does exist I can’t find it. Admittedly as that kind of statement would tend to come at CEO/Chairman level it would probably be Jeff’s to make which might not help considering some of the allegations.

Dark Archive

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I for one would like to know if they're willing to say they changed cleaning companies because the carpets weren't getting cleaned. Oh wait, did they say that they changed cleaning companies because the hygiene situation was bad?

That's great, it's good to know they're both acknowledging what they did wrong, and brought solutions forward!

Now do it for the hotel room situation. Why did you change the policy? What was wrong with the room-sharing policy that prompted this change? Did you just get some hotel coupons and thought it was the time to upgrade? Or was there SOME OTHER REASON the room-sharing policy was changed?

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