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

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

Can we please move this discussion out of this thread as it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of the thread. I'd prefer not to derail this thread from continuing to request accountability from the Paizo executive teams.

Paizo Employee Director of Community

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Removed a post for profanity as well as a side thread that veered way off-topic. I highly recommend those wanting to discuss gender descriptions in languages to open a new thread. Thanks!


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While the union recognition is overwhelmingly great news, I want to reiterate: we've still seen management not only refuse to acknowledge allegations of transphobic policy, but dance around them in their official communication on the subject of #PaizoAccountability. I'm concerned that we've had continual silence on the matter.

Silver Crusade

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keftiu wrote:
While the union recognition is overwhelmingly great news, I want to reiterate: we've still seen management not only refuse to acknowledge allegations of transphobic policy, but dance around them in their official communication on the subject of #PaizoAccountability. I'm concerned that we've had continual silence on the matter.

You're completely right to keep their feet to the fire but I kinda imagine mgmt has been a bit busy with other stuff this last week :-).

Not to mention probably blowing their legal budget for the year :-).

Unfortunately, this wonderful news is likely to delay mgmt's response to all specific issues (including the transphobia) as they spend time and effort on the union. Totally up to you how much slack on timing this earns them, of course.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
keftiu wrote:
While the union recognition is overwhelmingly great news, I want to reiterate: we've still seen management not only refuse to acknowledge allegations of transphobic policy, but dance around them in their official communication on the subject of #PaizoAccountability. I'm concerned that we've had continual silence on the matter.

I’ll lend my voice to this.

I’ve placed a catch up order as the union recognition is a great development. But the historic incidents of transphobia have been tacitly acknowledged but not formally responded to.

I would like to resume my subscriptions, but without clarity on that issue, I am not willing to commit more going forward.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've shifted from not looking at the shopping list to starting to put one together.

Still waiting for word about transphobia and data security concerns(read: doxxing).


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I'd *still* like to hear from the Paizo executive team on the issue of customer data confidentiality.

That is not a union issue. The union has nothing to do with how customer data is accessed and posted in internet-searchable comments.


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A lot of us would like to hear about that specifically along with the allegations of transphobia.


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@Paizo management: Seems there are folx here feeling unsafe. Which is not the same as a welcoming, inclusive, diverse community.


(Just in case they were too busy, or blew their reading and comprehension budget)


If people are re-subscribing because the union has been recognized, why would they do more?


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1.) Not everyone is resubbing.
2.) Those subs can again be canceled in the future.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Saedar wrote:

1.) Not everyone is resubbing.

2.) Those subs can again be canceled in the future.

3.) Taking on more subs if union gets more wins.


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I would actually buy Starfinder and buy more from Paizo directly, instead of going with local retailers.

Silver Crusade

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

I'm keeping my subs because they recognized the union. When further good actions are taken (especially if Jeff ever decides to come back to the forums to address the doxxing and transphobia) I'll add Starfinder subs.


Sweetening the pot is an idea I can get behind.


I hope that their newly announced platform is not a way to get people to forget about their doxxing and transphobic issues.


Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
I hope that their newly announced platform is not a way to get people to forget about their doxxing and transphobic issues.

It might function that way, but it wasn't planned that way. It was clearly in the works long before all this blew up.

Obviously both the doxxing and transphobia things had happened, but they had no reason to think they were going to come back up publicly when they did.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
I hope that their newly announced platform is not a way to get people to forget about their doxxing and transphobic issues.

Considering it would have taken several months of work and talks to get that platform going, and the issues presented have blown up to such a huge public display only in the past month or so, that's very much not possible.

Just because controversies are made known doesn't mean a business is going to stop their operations in the midst of those controversies. We wish that they would, given their grave nature, but it's simply not going to happen. Pathfinder Nexus, Pathfinder/Starfinder Infinite, and any other product announcements are going to continue to happen no matter how many issues are brought up.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The concerns about transphobia and doxxing are magnified with a new method of communication -- it's another method of communication that Paizo has put their name on.

If they cannot handle data safely or responsibly, how can there be any trust of any affiliated projects?

If they cannot address transphobia and transphoboia-related concerns, how can we feel safe in the new affiliated projects?

With all of this being said, I've maintained my Starfinder subscription throughout. Even going through the hassle of fighting with the site to change payment methods.

I'd rather not have to reconsider that decision.

On a positive note, I've been looking at the magnificent minis, adventures, and other things as I've been putting together a possible Christmas shopping list...


I understand those actions might seem like withholding or a protest or whatever to those doing it, but that's unlikely to be how Paizo will see it, because they don't correlate your sales history to your post history.

"People dropped, we recognized the union, people re-subbed" is pretty clear, even if it wasn't everyone who re-subbed.

Now, new products not selling as well as old ones? Is that due to this issue, or because the product isn't what the market wants right now, or a dozen other factors that could affect month-to-month sales data? It's much easier to ignore or shift the blame to something beyond the company's control, should they want to do that. It's as likely to affect the viability of future product lines as to be taken as a sign that the company still hasn't satisfied their forum fans.

Again, should they want to do that. I still hope to see some genuine change from upper management regarding the transphobia issue, the community management issues, and the privacy of company data.

Silver Crusade

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

I mean many people who canceled subs did so with a message of why. So yes, they could very easily correlate that. Likewise I emailed the executive team when the Union announced that if they did not voluntarily recognize by the end of Strength of Thousands I would drop my subs, and emailed them after they did recognize to thank and acknowledge that. I know I'm not the only one.

Grand Lodge

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Who says/said that new products are not selling as well as old ones?


Cori Marie wrote:
I mean many people who canceled subs did so with a message of why. So yes, they could very easily correlate that. Likewise I emailed the executive team when the Union announced that if they did not voluntarily recognize by the end of Strength of Thousands I would drop my subs, and emailed them after they did recognize to thank and acknowledge that. I know I'm not the only one.

Did you get a response?

Silver Crusade

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

I got a response from my second email from Erik, thanking me for my continued support and letting me know that my concerns were heard, yes.


Cori Marie wrote:
I got a response from my second email from Erik, thanking me for my continued support and letting me know that my concerns were heard, yes.

That is good.


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TwilightKnight wrote:
Who says/said that new products are not selling as well as old ones?

Read the post... people not choosing to buy new products out of protest would show up this way, without being able to correlate the lower number to a reason. Thus making it a less effective form of protest.


@Cori - I agree they can correlate people who were as proactive as you. I suspect, though, that some people cancelled and posted here without emailing. Again, cancelled subs are a very effective and direct method of getting a message across that you're unhappy.

My point is, resubscribing based on union recognition, but choosing to not buy new things until the other issues are taken care of, is not as clear of a message since they can't disentangle why sales for new products might be lower.

Silver Crusade

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

But again a lo0t of the people that canceled on the boards also gave a specific reason. I know, I saw the threads.


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

Both points are valid. This is semantics at this point.

It comes down to personal choice. If you choose to continue supporting the company because they recognize the union that is a choice. If you feel strongly about a specific issue and want to wait until that issue is addressed either through the union or by the company. That is a choice.

I gave until the end of this AP cycle for me to see progress. I don't expect things to get solved over night. But the fact that there is now a recognized union that has made its stance on Trans issues extremely clear I feel that there is a much higher likelyhood that those issues get addressed than if it was left in the hands of the people who created the issues in the first place.

So, I am still evaluating my stance and reserve the right to change it at a moments notice. But my issues are the Transphobia first and Doxxing second.

Walk the talk you claim to believe Paizo. Do better.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The way I'm looking at it is, it will help the UPW get a better contract deal in negotiations, if Paizo has more income not less. I'm taking the voluntary acceptance of the UPW union in good faith for now. Paizo's upper management has to know at this time if the transphobia and Doxxing allegations are not dealt with, they likely face a union strike, freelancers withholding work again, and customers stop buying again. If that's not enough pressure I don't know what is.

You can fight for a better tomorrow without "splitting the party" there's no one right way to address all of this.
It's Paizo games that brought people together in this community, let's not lose that.


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Ashbourne wrote:
Paizo's upper management has to know at this time if the transphobia and Doxxing allegations are not dealt with, they likely face a union strike, freelancers withholding work again, and customers stop buying again. If that's not enough pressure I don't know what is.

I think that’s very unlikely, personally. Those actions are in the past and the union will (quite rightly) be focussing on the present and future. The company can just undertake not to do it again.

Staying silent on past actions will work, imo. It’s just wrong.


Or they can keep quiet on it or issue non-apology apologies, as they have done in the past.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
Ashbourne wrote:
Paizo's upper management has to know at this time if the transphobia and Doxxing allegations are not dealt with, they likely face a union strike, freelancers withholding work again, and customers stop buying again. If that's not enough pressure I don't know what is.

I think that’s very unlikely, personally. Those actions are in the past and the union will (quite rightly) be focussing on the present and future. The company can just undertake not to do it again.

Staying silent on past actions will work, imo. It’s just wrong.

I'm hoping it's unlikely because it's hopefully not needed. I'm ok with undertake not to do it again, if that's was the result of an actually culture change at work, and not just a way to push it to the side and move on. It would be nice if there was some closing statement to put all of this to an end.

I went to high school in the 80s in a small conservative town, back then just dying your hair a funny color was enough to get you beat up. One girl I know was beaten and pinned to the ground by a group while someone took a knife and cut her hair off, that's just one example. Based on that I have always believed in not judging people by the way they look, or who they chose to be. Somehow I remain optimistic change for the better can happen, I think the formation of the UPW union is one of those changes

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