So Microsoft hosted a party. And at that party, someone gambled on the demographics being somewhat skewed towards straight men, and hired some female background dancers. This, of course, was unforgivable as it was, but then they had the nerve to hire attractive abled cis-women, and not disabled trans-women who challenged the attendees notions of beauty. Just what was Microsoft thinking?
Oh, that’s right. That they wanted to attract as many people as possible, and if the history of commerce shows anything, it’s that a few pretty women can sell even the most dreary of industry convention parties to the bunch of largely introverted straight men who make up the bulk of the industry. Maybe they thought that with endless events and programs targeted at women and other minorities, it wouldn’t be such a crime to host an event that catered for what remains the largest single demographic of developers. The very people they need to attract to make their platform a success.
They were, of course, hopelessly wrong.
With this furore raging on in the minds of the professionally aggreived, Microsoft did what any good corporation would do. Craft a written apology that is written so carefully to be as inoffensive to every possible side of the argument as possible. Let’s take a look at it a bit closer at what Phil Spencer had to say:
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.
A culture that includes everyone. Right. A more corporate and inoffensive cliche you would struggle to find. All cultures are, by definition, exclusionary. They define their limits by what they do and don’t consider acceptable. Even a culture of supposed intolerance inevitably defines itself by finding the intolerent to be unacceptable. There is no such thing as a culture that includes everyone. Man up and admit what sort of culture you’re actually backing, Phil. My guess is that it’s a politically correct culture that invests heavily in gender politics, but I’d love to hear different.
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 interesting how none of these corporate apologies that allude to some great guiding values, actually ever state those values. It’s obvious why – stating those values would obviously cause greater conflict as people critique those values. Microsoft, like most large corporations, avoid as much commitment as they can get away with. Commitment costs money, and for all the talk of lofty diversity goals, money still talks.
But still, they do state some values – they oppose “creating an environment that alienates or offends any group”. I find this rather amusing myself considering Xbox’s success will never be divorced from 12 year old boys discussing in graphic detail what sex acts they performed on your mother last night whilst shooting anything that moves in-game. And then following it up with a simulation of dropping their balls in the mouth of their recently deceased victim.
And as for an exclusionary environment, when their official hiring policy encourages “increased diversity”, how is that not exclusionary to those who are not considered sufficiently diverse? Microsoft may be far from the worst offenders in this area, considering they do actually still hire capable white men, but there is an element of “positive” discrimination in their hiring which cannot be ignored.
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.
As ever, Phil carefully avoids committing to anything concrete. If we are to believe Microsoft’s Diversity website, “diversity and inclusion” have been central to Microsoft’s business from the very start. It’s one of the most telling signs about many of those involved in the diversity industry. They’re happy to except such vague corporate non-apologies as long as they’re able to court media attention and lobby for funding for their organisations. I could understand these fiends if they were genuine ideologues looking to create a better world You know, much like the revolutionary socialists in Tsarist Russia. Instead, they’re just more corporate stooges looking to make a quick buck off of the misery of others.
I mean, who would have thought 30 years ago, that feminism would be about preventing women from being paid good money to do a job that they love for a relatively small amount of time. The double-think is astounding.
Why even apologise if that’s the best you can offer? And ultimately, why apologise at all? Most attendees didn’t feel the need to complain, only a few of the professionally aggrieved did, and you hold special snowflake events for them anyway. They’re not being excluded, any more than a white male is excluded because you also have events for ethnic minorities and women.