Paradox Interactive employees criticise the studio’s “culture of silence” with additional reports of discrimination

Further allegations of discrimination and mismanagement at Paradox Interactive have surfaced, with employees criticising the company’s “culture of silence.”

The news comes from a pair of sources – Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet and Eurogamer, who backed up the findings from an employee survey at Paradox Interactive last month.

The survey, which was conducted in August by Swedish union groups Unionen and Sveriges Ingenjörer, found that 44% of the 133 employees who chose to participate have experienced “mistreatment” at the company. A remarkably high figure, especially considering Paradox’s total headcount of 400 employees in Sweden.

The survey’s responses also pointed to a “culture of silence” at Paradox, and that almost nobody who experienced abusive treatment feels that the situation was appropriately addressed.

New reporting backs up these claims, with employees describing a number of alarming incidents – such as the hiring of a senior manager who was known to have engaged in “unwelcome approaches and harassment” at another games company. According to Svenska Dagbladet’s sources, the man’s questionable reputation was overlooked, and he was employed at Paradox.

“He had too much physical contact with us female employees. A hand on the lower back or very close hugs, where he drilled his face into one’s throat. We were several girls who talked about it,” said one source about the man in question, before he was hired at Paradox.

Eurogamer meanwhile has spoken to past and present female employees at Paradox, who paint the studio’s culture as male-dominated, and a toxic space for women.

“If you’re a woman in a group and you have a strong opinion…” said a source to Eurogamer. “like, 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.’

“It’s hard to be a woman in this company. People are like, ‘You’re just whining? Why is it harder for women?’ But if a guy would have brought the same things up it would have been a valid opinion.”

Employees at the company report that Paradox is ineffective in addressing the harassment of junior employees. According to sources, middle management is more interested in placating senior members of staff, and so sensitive issues are not raised up the chain of command for the fear of being “disliked” by the senior team. Sources also report multiple incidents of people being screamed at during meetings, which was treated as if it was normal behaviour.

Additionally, vulgar and misogynistic jokes are also not reported to senior staff, as it is believed that those responsible will not face consequences.

Men at the company are typically the loudest during meetings, while one woman dictated an account where she was forced to leave a meeting to delete criticism of the company from Paradox’s internal Slack.

“That’s as much culture of silence as you can have,” said the employee in question. A Paradox spokesperson told Eurogamer that they did not recognise the incident and did not comment further.

Prior to the leak of the employee survey, Ebba Ljungerud stepped down from her position as Paradox Interactive’s CEO, due to “differing views on the company’s strategy.” According to new CEO Fredrik Wester there is no connection between the survey results and Ljungerud’s departure, though he did not elaborate on those “different views.”

About Chris Wallace

Chris is MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer, joining the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can regrettably be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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