Paradox Interactive Accused of a ‘Culture of Silence’ Around Gender Discrimination

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A union-conducted employee survey carried out at Paradox Interactive in August has reportedly accused the Crusader Kings creator of creating a “culture of silence” around mistreatment and gender discrimination at the company.

Swedish publication Breakit (as reported by reports that just shy of half of the respondents to a union-led survey felt that they had experienced “mistreatment” at the company. The definition of mistreatment in this context has not yet been publicly laid out.

As per Breakit, 44% of the 133 people who took part in the survey answered to say that they had experienced mistreatment at Paradox. The report states that while women made up only around a quarter of respondents, 69% of female employees who took part said that they had experienced abusive treatment during their tenure. Meanwhile, around a third of male employees also said that they had experienced mistreatment.

According to Breakit, the union concluded the report by saying, “Offensive treatment is a systematic and far too common problem at Paradox.” The article goes on to say that employees at the company feel that there is a “culture of silence” at the publisher, and very few employees who had experienced abusive treatment felt as though the issue had been handled and solved appropriately at a later stage.

Following the news, Paradox issued a statement to Eurogamer in which it acknowledged that it was “aware of a survey undertaken inside the company” and that the results of the said survey were “obviously not satisfactory”. The full statement can be read as follows:

“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.”

News of the report comes only days after Paradox CEO Ebba Ljungerud stepped down from the company. Her resignation, Paradox said at the time, came due to differing opinions in company strategy going forward. Despite the short time between the two events, the publisher’s communications department, Ljungerud herself, and the company’s new CEO Frederik Wester all reportedly deny that there is a connection between the two events.

The reported mistreatment of employees at Paradox is the latest in a series of similar cases to affect the industry. Earlier this year, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard with allegations surrounding gender discrimination and a “frat boy” culture at the company. The same agency has also been investigating the results of a gender discrimination lawsuit at Riot Games whilst Ubisoft Singapore has been under scrutiny as reports surfaced that it was being looked into by the country’s national watchdog for harassment claims.

Jared Moore is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter.

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