Paizo Leadership Team Update

Monday, November 15, 2021

Over the last six weeks, Paizo's Leadership Team has attempted to better listen to and understand the challenges faced by its workforce, customers, and community. We want to take a moment to update you on a few important developments that have emerged from those conversations.

Before we begin, it's important to note that this update does not address requests regarding salaries, adjustments to the current work-from-home environment, or other matters that are now subject to negotiation with the United Paizo Workers union during collective bargaining.

We’re still searching diligently for a candidate to fill the company’s Human Resources Manager position, and plan to begin interviews very shortly. As this is an incredibly important hire, we want to make sure we find the right candidate with experience leading initiatives related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) and working with a union. We are continuing to gather resumes as the search continues.

We’ve hired a company called Energage to complete an employee engagement survey on behalf of Paizo. This survey is designed to allow employees to provide anonymous, unfiltered, and honest feedback to the company that will help Paizo establish priorities for improvement planning. It will also serve as an important benchmark against which to measure the results of future surveys, allowing us to develop a baseline to measure against. We expect employees to be able to access the engagement survey sometime this week.

Discussion in the past several months has resurfaced two instances in which a Paizo executive mishandled user data when replying to message board posts, resulting in allegations of doxxing. These actions were contrary to Paizo policy, and corrective actions were taken to ensure that this does not happen again.

“This was a huge mistake on my part and I am deeply sorry for any issues that have arisen from these actions. This was not the right way to treat our customers and I apologize,” said Paizo President Jeff Alvarez. “As President, I know I need to hold myself to a higher standard.”

Paizo takes issues related to discrimination and harassment very seriously. We have hired the law firm of Moritt Hock & Hamroff (MH&H) to investigate allegations of discrimination against trans employees and sexual misconduct before reporting back to the Leadership Team. Investigators from the firm will reach out to members of Paizo’s staff and others that made claims on social media. Cooperation with the firm is voluntary, of course, but we remain committed to investigating these matters thoroughly to ensure a safe and respectful workplace.

We chose MH&H upon the recommendation of a consultant with expertise in matters of DEIB. MH&H has a team of attorneys that specialize in these issues, and we’re confident they’ll be able to provide an impartial analysis of the facts that we need to move forward with any corrective actions.

Because the results of these investigations are private personnel matters, Paizo will not be able to make them public. Corrective actions will be taken against any employee (including managers and executives) found to be guilty of these allegations.

It has never been Paizo’s intention to discriminate against any employee when making decisions of who to send to industry trade shows, but we see now that our room-sharing policy was based on outdated interpretations of gender, was not friendly to transgender employees, and could contribute to a perception of transphobia at the company. Paizo’s Leadership Team acknowledges the pain this caused, and we understand that we need to be better at recognizing issues where such decisions could have unintended results. We also recognize that such actions do not align with Paizo's core values, the values of its staff members, or the sentiments of diversity and inclusion expressed in Paizo products, and as such, have disappointed, angered, and confused members of our community. We believe these mistakes are not representative of who we are, or what we want the company to represent. We need to do better... and we will.

“As the person in charge of trade shows, I want to apologize to anyone that felt marginalized as a result of the convention decision-making process,” said Jeff Alvarez. “It was not our intent to discriminate against anyone, and I’m sorry.”

As previously communicated, Paizo has adopted a one-employee-per-room travel policy moving forward. Regardless of gender identity, couples will be allowed to share rooms during travel as long as both parties request it.

Paizo remains committed to maintaining a diverse, safe, and fun workplace where our employees are treated fairly and look forward to creating awesome Pathfinder and Starfinder products for many years to come. We hope that this update helps communicate that we, the Leadership Team, are doing our best to listen to and address the concerns of our community members. We believe in creating a better Paizo, and believe that transparency, communication, and accountability will be instrumental as we move forward. Thank you for your continued support of our company and our products.

Paizo Leadership Team
David, Erik, Jeff, Jim, Lisa, and Mike

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1 person marked this as a favorite.
Cori Marie wrote:
Weird how so many people are demanding that we take this in good faith when the executive team won't even pop in here to clarify exactly how they were led to this particular law firm.
Skeld wrote:
...lawyer...probably advised them to stop speaking publicly. That's usually the first thing lawyers do.

Customer Service Representative

6 people marked this as a favorite.

Oh hi again! *waves* It appears this conversation got a little off topic, so I have removed some of the comments and quoted content. Please be nice to each other okay? Okay!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

After giving it some thought and going back to basics, I take Cori Marie's and others' points better than I did a few days ago. There is a real disconnect between stating (or implying) you're looking at DEI/B and then hiring a law firm. In my experience, DEI/B is more of an HR and hiring initiative. It's not really a "lawyer"-thing. If you are an employee and you get into a fight with an employer, you're either hiring a plaintiff-side employment lawyer or your union is hiring a labor lawyer. If you're management, you're hiring a management-side employment firm or a firm with experience fighting unions or representing management in grievance processes.

The lawyer may say they have experience in DEI/B (and they do), but I don't know any lawyer who calls themselves a "DEIB lawyer." I'm not saying none of them do (it sounds like Cori Marie hired an attorney who described themselves thusly and I respect that), but this was literally my practice area and neither I or my husband, also a lawyer, know anyone who refer to themselves this way. Lawyers can help craft policies and guidance around DEI/B since it can be heavily intertwined with the law and liability, but DEI/B is more about workplace culture, hiring and retention.

Honestly, I just spent twenty minutes googling for a law firm or even a lawyer who "specializes" in DEIB and what I got were a bunch of links to law firms' heads of diversity and inclusivity. (I'm not saying you won't find any if you look; I'm just saying it wasn't easy for me to find.) Of the two bar associations I belong to, one has a DEI section and for that the focus is on increasing diversity within the profession (not about representation of clients); the other association only has a Labor/Employment section and no mention of DEI/B at all.

If that sounds like I'm arguing the point, I'm actually not. As I've sat and thought about it, I think it really goes to the fundamentals of the position that a law firm may not have been the best type of service for Paizo to retain. And perhaps that does reflect on their intent. Even though I don't agree with that conclusion, after thinking about it for a while I better understand and empathize with it.

A lot of good will has certainly been lost and many folks are understandably waaaaaaay beyond assuming good faith. I get it. I'm not persuaded it is ipso facto a sign of bad faith or nefarious intent, but I do understand why folks feel that way.

All that said, one of the deleted posts said something about being kinder towards one another, not trying to score points, and so on. To me, this thread and subforum generally has grown amazingly hostile and toxic despite the moderators' best efforts. I've also contributed to it at least once back when all this broke, and I'll own that and apologize for it. (Looking at you, thejeff; sorry I was a jerk.) I think we can all point to plenty of examples.

And the kicker is, at this point, I think we're all basically on the same side: we want to see things improve for the employees so what happened to Sara Marie, Crystal and others doesn't continue to happen. We just disagree on the particulars or how we interpret certain steps along the journey.

v/r


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Just read more from Sara Marie and I'm seeing red right now. How is the person responsible for this fiasco still in authority? All I can come up with is the owners not only approve of his actions but whole heartedly endorse alienating their customer base at this point.

If you claim to stand with the workers and still defend the actions of leadership at this point I am done engaging with you.

Do your own googling. But seriously going to be buying Sara Marie another cup of coffee in the morning.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I know I'm weeks late but I wanted to comment that while I never really liked Sean he never seemed like thw type who would lie about Paizo after he left them.

As to the arguments about trusting the CIS guy over the trans woman, while I never really doubted her I do give SKR's words more weight, not because he's a guy or CIS but because I interacted with him here on these forums (even if not always favorably).


3 people marked this as a favorite.
ShadowcatX wrote:

I know I'm weeks late but I wanted to comment that while I never really liked Sean he never seemed like thw type who would lie about Paizo after he left them.

As to the arguments about trusting the CIS guy over the trans woman, while I never really doubted her I do give SKR's words more weight, not because he's a guy or CIS but because I interacted with him here on these forums (even if not always favorably).

…why are you writing cis in all caps?


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it actually stands for Classically-Interpreted Sex.


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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
it actually stands for Classically-Interpreted Sex.

AFAIK it means "on the same side as," just as trans mean "on the other side of," ie. transnational, Trans-Atlantic, and so on. I've never seen it described as an abbreviation for Classically-Interpreted Sex.

Liberty's Edge

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KC is making a joke.


9 people marked this as a favorite.

don't worry it doesn't happen often

I mean it does but who can tell with jokes like these


2 people marked this as a favorite.
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Kobold Cleaver wrote:

don't worry it doesn't happen often

I mean it does but who can tell with jokes like these

On the one hand, yeah. On the other hand, I feel dumb now.


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I don't think it reflects badly on you! A lot of people don't get my style of humor. They generally expect jokes to be funny.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Having a sense of humor that is non-Euclidean can be *such* a BOTHER sometimes. Especially when folks think one is supposed to be straight-faced and serious all the time.

On a slightly more relevant point, will indicate that the absence of a given thing (DEIB) does not indicate the presence of said thing (DEIB) 'just not being mentioned'.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Yoshua wrote:
Do your own googling. But seriously going to be buying Sara Marie another cup of coffee in the morning.

What happened? And yes, I did googling, but my own social media PTSD meant I couldn't look too far in certain areas. Sorry.

Liberty's Edge

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Umbral Reaver wrote:
What happened? And yes, I did googling, but my own social media PTSD meant I couldn't look too far in certain areas. Sorry.

Sara vented a little a bit about how things went down. Then someone suggested that it would best not do that on Social Media, so she decided to take the day off.


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Any time I invoke Sara Marie's legacy here I am going to try to make sure I provide her with caffeine. You can too if you want to. This is her Ko-Fi page.

Sara Marie is a gosh darn diamond. Telling her that she needs to put the company before customers when you hired her to be in the customer service department speaks volumes to the ineptitude of your president.

Do better Paizo. Your customer service department has kept me a customer through the years. Sara Marie, Diego, Sam Phelan, Heather and many others who have been courteous, kind, understanding and extremely helpful no matter how many road blocks management put in their way.

Do better Paizo. You are doing Abysmally and I am finding hard to justify maintaining my subscriptions.

Buy Sara Marie a Coffee if you are of a mind.

https://ko-fi.com/charmedneedle

Go to Arguably the best CSR rep I have ever interacted with, and a dang gem in the rough..

Editted to add: I haven't actually played more than 1 game of pathfinder in going on 3 years. I am not able to get in person games together because of Covid. I do not enjoy online sessions. I do watch streamers. I am literally just buying the product to support your company and possible future games. Most of the players I played with pre pandemic have moved on to DnD or other online forums. Getting them back to a table will be difficult when it is safe to do so. I literally have no reason to continue supporting the product other than my love for the content and the creators. It is daily becoming harder and harder to continue to support your company spending hundreds per month on your products when you fail at common decency and show a pure disdain for your customers and the people who support us.


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I read her tweets. Jeff needs to go.


10 people marked this as a favorite.

Yep. After two outright illegal actions and a number of immoral ones, let alone the unprovable middle ground... and the response being essentially "well, I told myself off but you plebeians are never going to get closure"

Yeah. Nothing so long as that remains unaddressed.

It's not about hiring a law firm as the last pages might indicate, it's about the fact that trust has been breached and leadership has done nothing but hide from any shred of accountability.

For shame.


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Terevalis Unctio of House Mysti wrote:
I read her tweets. Jeff needs to go.

I'd like to, mind sharing a link to her twitter?


I googled Sara Marie Paizo and it popped up,but you have to do a little search


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Sara Marie wrote:
"Community goodwill is not a resource to be squandered. It must be treated with due respect, as an ongoing investment."

Could we please get this placed above the door of every executive by international law, please?

Call it the Customer Service Golden Rule, because whatever is existing as one at the moment sure as heck ain't cutting it.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
Sara Marie wrote:
"Community goodwill is not a resource to be squandered. It must be treated with due respect, as an ongoing investment."

Could we please get this placed above the door of every executive by international law, please?

Call it the Customer Service Golden Rule, because whatever is existing as one at the moment sure as heck ain't cutting it.

I think the existing one is supposed to be "The customer is always right" and it is garbage. Sara Marie's one is much better.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The thing with 'The customer is always right' is that is has been turned into a macabre unspoken except when they're wrong, which is all the time.

It's not any one given workplace, and it's not any one given executive.

On a separate note:

PaizoCon 2018 Banquet Allergens

This was my first contact with Jeff Alvarez.

He could have sandbagged it at the time and few would have been the wiser, but he made damn sure that folks who had warned about allergen issues got taken care of with reasonable methods with the hotel.

So that has colored my perception of him to a fair extent -- first impressions and all.

After Gen Con 2019 the last in-person event I attended I was part of the 'take-down' crew in the Sagamore.

Jeff had come up with some of the pallets and he looked burnt.

Not like "not caring" burnt, but as in "nothing left in the tank to give burnt". As someone who works in retail and has had the 'pleasure' of working throughout the pandemic, it stands in contrast -- it wasn't an act.

So my last impression -- granted it was after a very exhausting Gen Con where they rolled out PF2 -- was that Jeff was tired.

Not in a 'bad' way, but in a 'human' way.

The silence almost seems like the resignation of the exhausted based on my last perception.

It's not "I can't comment because my lawyer advised me not to because I'm in incredibly hot water at the moment" but more "I can't even but I'm expected and... nothing. Gots nothing."

If there is a way to bring back that first impression, it would be welcome, but I can understand that rolling back the clock is incredibly difficult, especially after hard decisions were made.

Acquisitives

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Yoshua wrote:

Just read more from Sara Marie and I'm seeing red right now. How is the person responsible for this fiasco still in authority? All I can come up with is the owners not only approve of his actions but whole heartedly endorse alienating their customer base at this point.

If you claim to stand with the workers and still defend the actions of leadership at this point I am done engaging with you.

Do your own googling. But seriously going to be buying Sara Marie another cup of coffee in the morning.

Eh I'm not, seeing her post kind of confirmed it wasn't an out of the blue thing. Though there was some snark from the upper crust....looks like she stirred up enough hornets and got the boot. Then again who knows. It's only been bits and pieces of he said/she said.

Silver Crusade

9 people marked this as a favorite.

Still holding on to the head-in-the-sand “no one will ever know” defense this far in isn’t gonna work.

Liberty's Edge

Even bad managers have some good in them and can be tired just as anyone else. It does not make bad actions more palatable though.

Also some people completely change after being given authority. It is terrifying and sad to behold.


8 people marked this as a favorite.
Paulyhedron wrote:
Yoshua wrote:

Just read more from Sara Marie and I'm seeing red right now. How is the person responsible for this fiasco still in authority? All I can come up with is the owners not only approve of his actions but whole heartedly endorse alienating their customer base at this point.

If you claim to stand with the workers and still defend the actions of leadership at this point I am done engaging with you.

Do your own googling. But seriously going to be buying Sara Marie another cup of coffee in the morning.

Eh I'm not, seeing her post kind of confirmed it wasn't an out of the blue thing. Though there was some snark from the upper crust....looks like she stirred up enough hornets and got the boot. Then again who knows. It's only been bits and pieces of he said/she said.

I mean the problem with this argument is that there is enough smoke and visible flames in the past that its hard to argue otherwise that it wasn't a horrendous act. Getting fired for pushing back against Paizo and their bad policies has been a thing for as long as I remember being involved with the company. Just substitute employee with freelancer. And this isn't a hypothetical. They pulled that crap on someone I know.

And lets not forget the same thing happened with Crystal Fraiser. Is it a coincidence that she was fired the same time she spoke out about how abusive and horrible the companies policies were? Probably not. And for the record this was the quote:

Crystal Fraiser wrote:
If a company maintains an online space where fans can interact, and they allow debate about who is and isn't human and deserving of respect, they're not only telling minority customers they don't respect their presence, they're telling minority employees that, too

And for the record I consider the circumstances of that quote about as dire in terms of the hotel policy.


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Paulyhedron wrote:
Yoshua wrote:

Just read more from Sara Marie and I'm seeing red right now. How is the person responsible for this fiasco still in authority? All I can come up with is the owners not only approve of his actions but whole heartedly endorse alienating their customer base at this point.

If you claim to stand with the workers and still defend the actions of leadership at this point I am done engaging with you.

Do your own googling. But seriously going to be buying Sara Marie another cup of coffee in the morning.

Eh I'm not, seeing her post kind of confirmed it wasn't an out of the blue thing. Though there was some snark from the upper crust....looks like she stirred up enough hornets and got the boot. Then again who knows. It's only been bits and pieces of he said/she said.

I get it.

At this point in the discussion with countless corroborating horror stories about the culture of fear and submission that was fostered. With the workers forced to unionize to get a voice at the table. With everything surrounding the unceremonious dismissal of Sara Marie and with Diego vocally quitting in protest?

I get it.

People will still use vernacular from the 1940's that's origins are even more horrific than workplace discrimination against marginalized portions of our community to justify Paizo Leadership's failings.

Not sure at what point people will say: "you know right, maybe all of these former employees who have nothing good to say about Paizo leadership might be right?"

I mean, at least some of the former employees should be coming out of the woodwork to scream accolades about Jeff by now, right? No? silence is deafening. Leadership even admits to many of the issues in their own public statements. Still not enough?

We need to stop using He Said She Said in regular conversations in general. It's gross.

Edited to add:
Invoking Sara Marie's legacy for the day and sending her a morning coffee.

You can too if you so desire.

https://ko-fi.com/charmedneedle

Go to Firing Sara Marie got Jeff in this hot water in the first place. Lets talk about poor decision making skills for a while?.

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

Go to Not to mention public ridicule/intimidation and doxxing of customers and community members..


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Yeah, it's really a classic "she-said/she-said/she-said/she-said/he-said/he-said/he said/she-said" versus "he might feasibly one day say, despite being silent up until now" situation. No way to know for sure.


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Yeah I get it. Shocked that marginalized people and people wrongly fired would continue to use their voices to be heard and their allies willing to continue to keep the issue at the forefront of the forums.

Totally understand. If only the marginalized people learned their lesson, stayed in their place and were just grateful that they had jobs everything would be better for people who kept their head in the sand.

What? People claim to be for the workers but are then surprised that people are still fighting for workers rights?

That's a paradox I won't wrap my head around.


8 people marked this as a favorite.

The funniest thing about ignorantly calling this situation "he said, she said" isn't even how rankly outnumbered the "he said" is, it's that "he" hasn't even contradicted a single allegation. Hell, he's confirmed a few. It's all true, we know it's true, stop wasting our time with this hunger for a nonexistent Reasonable Middle Ground like some escaped South Park character. I can't tell you how tiresome it got two months ago.


9 people marked this as a favorite.
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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
The funniest thing about ignorantly calling this situation "he said, she said" isn't even how rankly outnumbered the "he said" is, it's that "he" hasn't even contradicted a single allegation. Hell, he's confirmed a few. It's all true, we know it's true, stop wasting our time with this hunger for a nonexistent Reasonable Middle Ground like some escaped South Park character. I can't tell you how tiresome it got two months ago.

Well there was the one time he said he couldn't be trans or homophobic because he has gay friends....

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