Redmond has responded quickly to a controversy surrounding a party the company held at GDC this week, with Xbox head Phil Spencer sending an internal email to all employees.
The gaming industry has long been accused of sexism, whether it is the way women are portrayed in games, or how it continues to be very much a man’s world.
Conferences are unfortunately known for sexist behavior and Microsoft has become embroiled in controversy at the Game Developers Conference (GDC).
The company held a party with sexist themes at the event, and the actions have been deemed as “unequivocally wrong” by Xbox chief Phil Spencer, who is left to clean up the mess.
Obviously, Microsoft’s size and presence in the market makes this kind of issue a PR disaster, especially from a company that must have thousands of employees from both genders and all sexual orientations.
During the party in question, women were used on podiums in various revealing costumes while they danced. The scene is reported to have caused great discomfort for those who attended, some of whom complained directly and then shared their grievances online after the event.
As mentioned, this could quickly become a PR disaster for Microsoft, so it is no surprise the company has jumped on top of this quickly. Spencer sent out an email to employees to admonish them over their actions, while also laying down Microsoft’s wider policy regarding sexism and discrimination.
The Verge found the email in question (below), but Microsoft has been unwilling to say how it will further deal with this matter and if any individuals will be punished over the situation.
How we show up as an organization is incredibly important to me. We want to build and reflect the culture of team Xbox – internally and externally – a culture that each one of us can represent with pride. An inclusive culture has a direct impact on the products and services we deliver and the perception consumers have of the Xbox brand and our company, as a whole.
It has come to my attention that at Xbox-hosted events at GDC this past week, we represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was absolutely not consistent or aligned to our values. That was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated. This matter is being handled internally, but let me be very clear – how we represent ourselves as individuals, who we hire and partner with and how we engage with others is a direct reflection of our brand and what we stand for. When we do the opposite, and create an environment that alienates or offends any group, we justly deserve the criticism.
It’s unfortunate that such events could take place in a week where we worked so hard to engage the many different gaming communities in the exact opposite way. I am personally committed to ensuring that diversity and inclusion is central to our everyday business and our core values as a team – inside and outside the company. We need to hold ourselves to higher standards and we will do better in the future.
SOURCE: The Verge