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Union survey alleges culture of mistreatment at Paradox Interactive

Respondents claim to have experienced bullying and gender discrimination

An internal survey conducted by Paradox Interactive's unions has revealed an alleged culture of mistreatment at the company, who're known for developing grand strategy games such as Crusader Kings. Of the 133 Paradox employees who responded to the survey, 44% claimed to have experienced mistreatment, from bullying to gender discrimination.

This comes from a leaked document made public by the Swedish tech website Breakit, though RPS have seen a copy of the results summary, and a union representative has verified the document's authenticity for us.

The survey was conducted last month by Unionen and SACO, the two main unions at Paradox Interactive, concerning the working conditions in the Swedish part of the business. The results claim that 69% of women and 33% of respondents had experienced mistreatment during their time at the company.

It further claims that "mistreatment is a systemic and far too common issue at Paradox", and that "high-level perpetrators are perceived as shielded by the company", creating a "culture of silence".

While the survey results paint an unsavoury picture of the working conditions at Paradox, it's worth noting that this wasn't a huge legal investigation into the company's culture, but something organised by union reps. A representative of Unionen and SACO told us over email that the survey was only sent to union members and Paradox staff in their union Slack channel. It's also difficult to pinpoint when the alleged mistreatment took place, because the survey was about staff members' general time at Paradox.

Nevertheless, the results of the survey do justify further investigation, and it seems that's the next step for the company. The union rep informed us that, while it hasn't been announced internally, Paradox are planning a "third party audit of some sort", which they had specifically suggested to HR when they presented them with the results.

"As union members, we believe this to be a good idea as long as we're involved in the process," they told us. "We believe our involvement is necessary to ensure our members can trust the results, the interpretation of the results, and the choice of questions."

A Paradox Interactive spokesperson told us: "The management team has been working to reconcile the informal survey with our own internal research, and are eager to take action. Paradox is now in the process of bringing in an external, neutral firm to conduct a thorough audit of our processes and a comprehensive employee survey."

"This will help us advance our efforts towards all of the subjects that we've worked to improve in recent years - harassment and abuse will be paramount among these, but we'll also be examining subjects like unbiased hiring and compensation, ongoing bias awareness, inclusion, and more," they added.

This has come out at a strange time for Paradox. Last week, the company's CEO Ebba Ljungerud stepped down, with former CEO Fredrik Wester stepping in to take up his old role again. The union rep told us that the survey and Ljungerud's departure are unrelated however, and they have no reason to believe there's any connection.

It also comes a year after our own investigation into Paradox's working conditions, in which current and former staff alleged poor treatment, low pay, and mismanaged layoffs.

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