It wasn’t long ago that Kixeye took the web by storm with their rather extreme recruitment video, which systematically put down rival developers and built themselves up as an exciting company to work for. As it turns out, that boisterous company culture just might bring with it a few caveats – racism and homophobia, most notably.
A former employee of the company released a blog past last night chronicling his experience with the company, and the sundry instances of mistreatment he both witnessed and was subjected to. The blog post has been removed since, but Kotaku has posted several quotes from it. While they pale in comparison to reading the post in full (I had a chance to last night, before it was taken down), they hammer home the points the former employee was trying to make. Just a taste:
I take a very deep breath through my nose. I tell [Steve], rather I clarify for him that many things said by him and other people in the office has been racist, sexist, homophobic, transpho-
"Whoa whoa whoa, those comments you're hearing aren't racist; they're jokes!"
"The problem is that you're too sensitive. You need to check all that at the door before you come here to work."
"We don't even tolerate people bringing up concerns of racism here."
The heart of the problem is that Kixeye horribly misinterpreted a mandate to craft an open, 'inclusive' company culture as permission for a no-holds-barred policy on racist and homophobic humor. While that may fly in certain circles (which isn't to say it should), it certainly doesn’t fit in a work setting, where there are likely to be plenty of people who disagree with it.
Much of the blog post was dedicated to the former employee's struggle to show the higher-ups what was wrong with their policies on the matter. Each attempt on his part was met with the same response: Lighten up.
I try to push back, pointing out the realities of the world, that there are policies and laws that maintain racial inequality so it's not feasible to check the impact of reality "at the door."
"No, you're too sensitive, that's the problem. I acknowledge that racism happens out there in the world at times, but racism doesn't happen in this office."
"Besides, there are transvestites on the team that I hired."
Oh my lord, so hiring "transvestites" somehow absolves you racist? Prior, I had noticed that indeed there were a few transwomen working in the office. All of them white, and all the while homophic and transphobic comments still riddle the office like bullet holes despite their presence.
It’s a rather tangled mess, and Kixeye has stated they are “thoroughly investigating what is fact and what is fiction and will take appropriate action.” A fairly predictable response, but it was followed up with a more detailed message from CEO Will Harbin:
“Five hours ago, I was shocked to learn through a blog post of a former short-term contract employee about allegations of discriminatory behavior at KIXEYE. WE TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY. After an initial investigation we've taken substantial corrective action and will continue to do so as appropriate. The actions described in the blog post do not represent the cultural standards at KIXEYE (as demonstrated by our diverse and talented team) and will NOT be tolerated.”
We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop should the story develop further.