Following last week’s allegations of sexual discrimination and bullying at Paradox Interactive, the returning CEO of the company, Fredrik Wester, has made a statement regarding an incident in 2018 where he was a part of the problem and not the solution to any kind of toxic workplace culture.
The need for him to talk publicly about this comes following a union-led survey into the company’s workplace culture. The survey, which leaked to press after being handed to Paradox’s departing CEO Ebba Ljungerud the week before last, revealed that 44% of the 133 respondents said they had experienced some kind of “mistreatment” while working at the company. When looking specifically at women, which made up 26% of respondents, that figure jumped up to 69%.
The ultimate conclusion from the union report was that “Offensive treatment is a systematic and far too common problem at Paradox.”
Naturally, this brought back rumours and memories of Wester’s actions in the final months of his first tenure as company CEO, forcing him to address them, which he chose to do through a series of public Tweets.
While it is obviously one side of the story, Wester says that he apologised for his actions shortly after the incident, doing so with HR’s involvement, and has then sought to better himself with outside help.
Further to this, with regard to his creditability in leading the company through the process of conducting a new survey – Paradox is “now in the process of bringing in an external, neutral company to conduct a thorough review of our process and a comprehensive employee survey” – he has committed to taking a hands off approach with HR taking the lead with the help of an external company.
The full Twitter thread reads:
In the wake of the recently leaked survey to the press, there have been rumors and discussions about my role in this environment, citing a specific incident in 2018. In the name of transparency and clarity, I would like to shed light on this. Accountability starts from the top.
Bbeginning [sic] of 2018, we held a company-wide conference, and during this gathering, a Paradox employee was subject to inappropriate behavior from me personally. This was something I immediately and sincerely apologised for in-person the following Monday in a process reviewed by HR.
Everyone should have the right to be comfortable and safe, especially around a person in a position of power such as myself, something I stated then and I am stating again now.
It has never been my intention to make anyone uncomfortable around me, but that is still what happened, much to my regret. Following this episode, I have been working with my coach and mentor to understand the impact of my behavior better, and to better myself.
Contrary to what people may suggest, this had nothing to do with me resigning as CEO in 2018, something that had been planned for over six months at the time it occurred.
I understand that this makes my cause less credible when it comes to handling these issues internally and will therefore not be involved directly with it, it will be done by HR at Paradox with external help, but of course with my full support if needed.
Again, I sincerely regret making a person in my proximity uncomfortable and for the damage this caused. I will continue to work to not only improve myself but also improve the work environment around both Paradox and the industry as a whole.
While this does not absolve Wester of his actions (and we still don’t know what they were), the candour from a games company executive is good to see. It’s also worth noting that the union survey came following steps that Paradox took to get their employees better representation through signing a bargaining agreement with Unionen in 2020. It will take time, but we hope to see more positive reports from Paradox’s workplace in the future.