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Paradox Publishes Harassment Investigation in Transparency Effort

Paradox Interactive says it has already implemented changes recommended by the investigating firm.
Paradox Interactive says it has already implemented changes recommended by the investigating firm. / Photo courtesy of Paradox Interactive

Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis developer Paradox Interactive has published an external report it commissioned of its working practices after an internal staff survey showing rampant misconduct, particularly toward women, at the studio.

The report was compiled by Gender Balance, a Swedish firm that specializes in discrimination, harassment, and equity issues. Paradox's staff unions recommended the firm.

The findings in the report underline points made in the internal survey, which was published by Swedish paper Svenska Dagbladet and Eurogamer. Paradox has said it will implement all of Gender Balance's recommendations, and has already enacted some. Its decision to publish the Gender Balance report comes out of a professed desire for transparency.

"We believe that complete transparency is the best way to move forward and address the issues and behaviors that have been identified," said Paradox Chief of Staff Mattias Lilja. "On February 7th 2022, Gender Balance delivered the final report and recommendations from their audit; it was shared with all Paradox employees shortly after, and we're now publishing it. You can find it here, full and unedited."

Lilja held an interview with the Swedish news agency Direkt following the publication. Paradox provided Eurogamer with direct translations.

"We are now getting to the bottom of this and we are getting a concrete picture of the problem. The report is a first step for us to really address these issues and bridge the trust gap that exists. Everyone should feel safe at Paradox and thrive, that is our responsibility to ensure."

Lilja said Gender Balance had expected to find more serious cases because of Paradox's size, but instead "found a more widespread behavior of the lower degree, such as master suppression techniques and inappropriate/nasty jargon. And it affects women to a greater degree than men, which is completely unacceptable."

The report backs up Lilja's statement, saying that "cases of grey zone abusive behavior, which may defy clear legal definitions but nevertheless impacts the victim" were "significantly more common" than "severe or overt harassment or sexual harassment."

"While single incidents may not always cross the line into harassment or bullying, when the behavior is recurring it forms a pattern of behavior or jargon which becomes abusive. Perpetrators are most commonly male employees or managers, although the survey shows that female managers occur somewhat frequently as perpetrators of certain suppression techniques as well."

Lilja said that although no firings had been made because of the report, as Gender Balance said termination wasn't "legally permissible," but that Paradox had taken other actions, including improving its harassment and case management processes. Management and HR have been provided specialist training and had their support structures reinforced. Guidelines for company events have been updated, especially with regard to alcohol.

Moving forward, Paradox will work with staff, union representatives, HR and management to create an action plan for further change. It will continue to survey staff on misconduct at the studio, with the next review set for fall.