Swedish publication Breakit (via GamesIndustry.biz) reported on a union-led employee survey conducted in August that found almost half of the 133 staff who participated experienced “mistreatment”.
According to Breakit, the survey results show the problems are mainly about bullying and gender discrimination”, and “worst for women”.
69 percent of the women who responded said they had experienced mistreatment. The corresponding figure for men was 33 percent.
“Mistreatment is a systemic and far too common issue at Paradox,” the unions said in conclusion.
Another complaint raised is that “high-level perpetrators are perceived as shielded by the company”. The survey also highlights a culture of silence at Paradox.
Breakit said the results of the survey, which were conducted by Swedish unions SACO and Unionen, were presented to Paradox’s HR manager and then CEO Ebba Ljungerud last Monday, before staff were told on Wednesday. That same day, 1st September, Paradox announced Ljungerud had stepped down as CEO “due to differing views on the company’s strategy going forward”, with former CEO Fredrik Wester becoming boss once again.
Wester told Breakit that Ljungerud’s exit had nothing to do with the survey results. This point was reiterated to Eurogamer by a representative of the SACO and Unionen boards at Paradox, who also stressed the survey only covered Paradox’s Sweden operation.
Paradox, which is best-known for its grand strategy games such as Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis and Stellaris, told Breakit it will now take action, combining the employee survey with its own internal survey, to be conducted by an external company.
Paradox issued a statement to Eurogamer today, calling the survey results “not satisfactory”. The statement is below:
“We are aware of a survey undertaken inside the company on this topic, and of the results, which are obviously not satisfactory. The management team wants to ensure this data is acted upon, but taking immediate, direct action is legally difficult thanks to the informal nature of the survey (and thanks to the results being shared just before we underwent this CEO change, which has been fairly busy for us). We are currently working to reconcile the informal survey with our own internal research, and are eager to take action.
“Paradox is now in the process of bringing in an external, neutral firm to conduct a thorough audit of our processes and a comprehensive employee survey. This will help us advance our efforts towards all of the subjects that we’ve worked to improve in recent years – harassment and abuse will be paramount among these, but we’ll also be examining subjects like unbiased hiring and compensation, ongoing bias awareness, inclusion, and more.”
The allegations made against Paradox follow the State of California’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over what it alleges to be a “frat boy” culture that created “a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women”, mainly at Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of World of Warcraft, Diablo and Overwatch.
In July, over 1000 current and former Ubisoft employees across 32 studios signed an open letter in solidarity with Activision Blizzard staff. The letter slammed Ubisoft leadership’s “empty promises” in response to allegations of “systemic discrimination, harassment and bullying” within the company, and proposed an industry wide collaboration to agree a set of “rules and processes for handling reports of these offences”.
The State of California has also filed a lawsuit against League of Legends maker Riot Games for “gender discrimination in hiring, pay and promotion decisions; sexual harassment; and retaliation by Riot Games against its female employees”.