new report from eurogamer and Swedish newspapers Swedish daily newspaper Detail further allegations of an anti-female workplace culture at Paradox Interactive, the studio behind grand strategy mainstays including Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings and Hearts of Iron. The report comes just a month after a Paradox employee survey was leaked in which 69% of female respondents reported some form of abuse while working at the company.
One incident cited in the report involved the hiring of a senior manager with a reputation for “unwanted attitudes and harassment” in his past studio-dealings, which reportedly continued to contradict.
“He had a lot of physical contact with our female employees,” said a former employee. “Hands on the waist or a very close hug, where he put his face around someone’s neck. [There] There were many girls who talked about it.”
A former employee, who resigned over the face of his harassment, was given a settlement of around 270,000 Swedish kronor ($30,700) in 2016 after the company was taken to court, but the manager involved had until two months earlier. Retained a “leading role” in Paradox.
Other forms of abuse mentioned in reporting are more subtle. Multiple sources said the company is “clearly male-dominated”, and that women face different treatment from their male counterparts.
“I’ve been to meetings where I’m the only woman in the room, and I say ‘Hey, I really think we should go in this direction based on our experience’, and someone looks at me, and they say are, ‘You know what, you’re just here as a token hire. So I guess you should keep quiet about this’,” said one woman.
“It’s hard being a woman in this company. People are like, ‘You’re just crying? Why is it hard for women?’ But it would have been a valid opinion if a man brought the same things.”
According to one employee, Paradox has not adequately addressed these issues, as the management structure is primarily focused on supporting line employees and pleasing senior management rather than dealing with systemic issues. A similar sentiment was expressed in a leaked employee survey, which said, “There is a perception that criminals are protected by the company at the managerial level.” There is also a reluctance to speak up due to the small size of the Swedish videogame industry. “Everybody knows everybody,” said another woman, which makes it difficult to maintain confidentiality.
The situation isn’t necessarily hopeless, but one employee said the situation couldn’t change unless senior management started taking it seriously. “There is real harassment in Paradox that people are denying, because they don’t believe it is harassment,” she said. “We believe this is normal, because where they come from, this culture has been going on for years and years and years. And some people have never seen anything different.”
Overcoming that particular hurdle may be complicated by the presence of Paradox CEO Fredrik Vester, who replaced Ebba Ljungrud in September. Shortly after taking back the CEO role (Ljungrud’s successor is also his predecessor – he took over the top post from him in 2018), Wester issued an apology for a 2018 incident that involved “inappropriate behavior” with a Contradiction employee. Was. The nature of the incident has not been disclosed, although Wester said it was not related to his decision to step down.
A Paradox representative said the company took the leaked employee survey results seriously, though they also pointed out that it was an “informal” study based on a “limited sample” of employees. Like Activision, a huge videogame company that has been shaken by allegations of widespread abuse and mistreatment of its female employees, Paradox has also hired an outside auditor to investigate the company’s culture. The company declined to comment further on the reports.