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Majority of women working at Paradox Interactive report mistreatment in staff survey

Paradox Logo.
(Image credit: Paradox Interactive.)

Last week Paradox Interactive announced the departure of CEO Ebba Ljungerud, who apparently resigned "due to differing views on the company's strategy going forward." She was replaced by former CEO and Paradox co-founder Fredrik Wester, who says he's in it for the long-haul.

Today, the Swedish business and tech website breakit.se scored a scoop: a leaked Paradox employee survey from last month conducted by two unions, Unionen and Sveriges Ingenjörer. conducted an employee survey at Paradox Interactive about the company's working environment.

Paradox employs around 400 people in Sweden and 133 chose to take part in the survey. Of those, 44 percent claimed to have experienced "mistreatment" but the numbers get much worse among female employees. Women made up 26% of the total respondents, and 69% of them said they had received abuse or mistreatment.

"Offensive treatment is a systematic and far too common problem at Paradox," says the conclusion of the report, later adding "There is a perception that perpetrators at managerial level are protected by the company."

One of the more interesting details in breakit.se's story is that this report was presented to Paradox HR manager Marina Hedman and then-CEO Ebba Ljungerud August 30. Paradox staff were shown the report two days later on Wednesday 1st August, a few hours before Ljungerud's resignation.

Paradox for its part denies there's any connection between the report and Ljungerud's exit. Asked about the role of the employee survey in Ljungerud's departure, Fredrik Wester said simply “none.”

In response to the news, Paradox communication manager Loic Fontaine emailed the following: "Paradox is now in the process of bringing in an external, neutral company to conduct a thorough review of our processes and a comprehensive employee survey."

As the news spread, some former Paradox employees shared the thought that this had been a long time coming. 

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PC Gamer contacted Paradox, who provided the following statement:

"Obviously the results of this survey are deeply concerning. 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 (which is not to say it's being dismissed out-of-hand by any means).

"As stated to Breakit, we decided last week to have an independent company run an audit of our processes to report and handle cases of discrimination and harassment. We’ll also have them run a comprehensive survey to provide us with clearly defined and actionable data that we can use to make impactful change.

"At this point we're in the process of hiring an independent and neutral firm that specializes in this process."

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."