Swedish union details misogynistic, vulgar behavior
Paradox Interactive, the publisher behind grand strategy titles such as Crusader Kings and Stellaris, has become the latest video game developer to come under fire from reports of sexist and discriminatory behavior within the studio’s walls. The latest accusations came about following a survey of the company’s staff, conducted back in August, by unions Unionen and Sveriges Ingenjörer.
The survey of 133 employees, the results of which were leaked online, claim that 44% of participants spoke of “mistreatment” at the company’s hands, calling toxic behavior a “systemic” part of Paradox Interactive. Respondents spoke of a “culture of silence” that they allege prevents many from speaking up, or from calling out higher-ranking employees when they act inappropriately in either public or private instances. Additionally, 69% of women employees interviewed by the unions claim to have faced abuse while in the workplace.
In response to the survey’s findings, Paradox has launched an external audit/investigation, which remains underway.
The release of the above feedback has since led to other employees speaking up about their own experiences. In new staff testimony gathered by Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet and website Eurogamer, Paradox Interactive is depicted as a male-dominated environment, with some of its women employees considering themselves “token” hires. Eurogamer spoke to women who found themselves frequently hushed and embarrassed in meetings. One source claims that she was forced to delete her criticism of the company from staff chat, while her superiors stood and watched over her.
“I have been to meetings where I’m the only woman in the room, and I say ‘Hey, I really think we should go this direction, based on my experience,’ and someone looks at me, and they say, ‘You know what, you’re just here as a token hire. So I think you should be quiet about this,’” said one of the women interviewed by Eurogamer. “It’s hard to be a woman in this company. People are like, ‘You’re just whining? Why is it harder for women?’”
Among testimony of frequent sexist and misogynistic “jokes” by Paradox staff members, Eurogamer’s sources also recount an incident in which a senior manager was brought on board despite his previous employer, (an undisclosed games company), having already been taken to court over his sexual harassment of women employees. Despite this reputation preceding him, Paradox still brought him on board to serve in a senior role at the studio.
Paradox Interactive has not commented on the reports from Eurogamer due to its ongoing investigation. Responding to the Svenska Dagbladet article, a company spokesperson said that the union surveys featured only a “limited sample of respondents (less than 20 percent of our employees globally).” The company is expected to post its findings and conclusions from the external audit at a later date.