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Union survey surfaces allegations of misconduct and 'offensive treatment' at Paradox

The survey was conducted by Swedish unions and found that "offensive treatment is a systematic and far too common problem at Paradox."

Chris Kerr, News Editor

September 7, 2021

2 Min Read

A leaked employee survey obtained by Swedish news site Breakit indicates that a number of Paradox Interactive employees in Sweden have experienced some form of workplace misconduct.

The survey was conducted by Swedish unions Sveriges Ingenjörer and Unionen back in August, with both organizations keen to learn more about how the Stellaris and Cities: Skylines publisher operates in Sweden specifically.

Out of the 133 workers who completed the survey, 44 percent of respondents claimed to have experienced abusive or improper treatment. For context, Paradox currently has just over 400 employees in Sweden.

Among women, who comprised 26 percent of respondents, 69 percent claimed to have experienced abusive treatment at Paradox. "Offensive treatment is a systematic and far too common problem at Paradox," reads a conclusion put forward by one union.

Some staff also claimed Paradox strives to protect abusers and has created a culture of silence that allows misconduct to flourish, with another conclusion suggesting "there is a perception that perpetrators at managerial level are protected by the company."

Both Sveriges Ingenjörer and Unionen are demanding Paradox take action to address its cultural issues, and the company has now pledged to hire an external company to conduct a "thorough review" of its processes and conduct a new "comprehensive employee survey."

In a more detailed statement handed to Kotaku, Paradox described the results of the union survey as "deeply concerning," but claimed that taking immediate action would be challenging due to the "informal nature of the survey."

“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)," reads the statement.

“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; beyond that I don’t have further detail I can offer right now."

The news comes shortly after Paradox chief exec Ebba Ljungerud resigned due to "differing views" on company strategy. Newly appointed CEO Fredrik Wester dismissed the idea that Ljungerud departure was somehow linked to the survey, and said the two stories are unrelated.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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