GAMING: Paradox Interactive Employees Describe Company Culture Of Sexual Harassment And Discrimination

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dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

A new report describes in detail a pervasive culture of sexual harassment and discrimination at Swedish game developer Paradox Interactive. According to one report, a female employee was called “token hire” by her boss and told to “be silent” at a company meeting. According to other reports, female employees were discouraged from reporting cases of sexual harassment to senior management.

[Content Warning: Sexual Harassment]

A particularly egregious case mentions how Paradox Interactive hired a senior manager with a reputation for “unwelcome approaches and harassment” at a separate company prior to his hiring at Paradox. One woman who worked under the man at that former company states that he would have “too much physical contact” with female employees, describing how he would put “a hand on the lower back or very close hugs, where he drilled his face into one’s throat.”

The company in question later went to court and paid a settlement of 270k Swedish kroner (about $30.8k) in 2016, but Paradox Interactive hired the manager just months later, where he served in a senior role until August 2021.

Another source describes how management belittled and talked down to female employees, who make up about 1/5 of employees at Paradox Interactive. Eurogamer spoke with sources who described how management treated female employees as vulgar and misogynistic, as well as commonplace “meetings in which people are shouted at”. One woman detailed how she spoke up about the company’s direction during a meeting, only to be told that she was “just [there] as a token hire” and that she “should be quiet about this.”

Worse yet, the company is reportedly ill-equipped to deal with harassment cases because middle management is focused on appeasing senior staff rather than addressing issues. Paradox Interactive, a large part of the small Swedish gaming industry, is also causing concern among employees.

These reports follow some pretty damning news coming from the Swedish publisher over the past couple of months, starting initially with the departure of former CEO Ebba Ljungerud in early September. While Ljungerud herself stated that the reason was due to “differing views on the company’s strategy,” the above harassment allegations describe a studio culture that was the “worst for women.” It doesn’t help that Ljungerud’s replacement, CEO Fredrik Wester, himself is guilty of “inappropriate behavior” during a company conference held back in 2018.

The full Eurogamer report details many other problems such as the influence Paradox has over the Swedish games industry. Paradox has “hired an independent auditor to examine its company culture,” according to many. This is a move that many believe will lead to a shift. Eurogamer was told by a source that the change will require both an openness from the upper management and a shift in perceptions of acceptable behavior. Paradox is experiencing harassment that some people deny, but they don’t believe it to be harassment. It is normal because this culture has been around for many years. And some people have never seen anything different.”

[Source: Eurogamer]

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