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Paradox staff allege "culture of silence" in new reports of toxic workplace

"As much culture of silence as you can have."

New reports have been published containing further allegations of abuse at Swedish publisher Paradox Interactive. The reports, published initially by Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (paywalled), are based primarily on interviews with Paradox staff who wished to remain anonymous.

One alleged incident involved the hiring of a senior manager known for "unwelcome approaches and harassment" at a former company, according to a translation by Eurogamer. Svenska Dagbladet sources said the man's reputation was ignored when he was hired

Eurogamer also spoke to several women, current and former employees of Paradox, who spoke of a toxic workplace culture where women were silenced, ignored, and screamed at.

"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'," said one woman speaking anonymously, "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.'"

Both Eurogamer and Svenska Dagbladet spoke to women who described a lack of faith in management to deal with issues. "If I bring something to my middle management manager he's not going to address those things to senior management because then he might be disliked," one woman told Eurogamer. One woman also told Svenska Dagbladet of an instance where a male manager removed her from a meeting and made her remove criticism of the company from the internal Slack while he watched.

"That's as much culture of silence as you can have," said the employee.

These allegations come a month after a leaked survey of Paradox's union employees alleged a culture of mistreatment at Paradox Interactive. More than half of women respondents to the survey said they had experienced mistreatment during their time at the company. A Paradox representative told Svenska Dagbladet that they took the survey seriously, but that it was an "informal" study which less than 20% of the company responded to.

In a response to Eurogamer, Paradox reiterated that they had commissioned their own audit of the company's practices using an external HR firm. There are more details of the new allegations in Eurogamer's story.

The week before the union survey became public, CEO Ebba Ljungerud resigned, with Paradox citing "differing views on the company's strategy". Paradox have since cancelled several unannounced games.

Previous CEO Fredrik Wester returned to the role, but a week later admitted to "inappropriate behaviour" at a company event in 2018, when he was last CEO.

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