Hours after hosting a “women in gaming” luncheon at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft threw a party with scantily clad dancers in school girl outfits. It wasn’t a good look, and the company has since apologised.
The photos surfaced after a series of tweets by Tin Man Games editor Kamina Vincent brought the incident to light.
“I like dancing, I like talking to devs,” wrote Vincent. “But not at this
#GDC16 party. Thanks for pushing me out of this party, Microsoft. [...] Making a formal complaint tomorrow. I will not stand for this. I’m trying to encourage women into the industry then this happens.”
As the photos made their way around Twitter, the backlash was swift, and it didn’t take long for Microsoft executives to take notice.
First, there was head of Xbox marketing Aaron Greenberg.
— Aaron Greenberg (@aarongreenberg) March 18, 2016
Soon after, head of Xbox Phil Spencer released a statement to The Verge:
At Xbox-hosted events at GDC this past week, we represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was not consistent or aligned to our values. It was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated. I know we disappointed many people and I’m personally committed to holding ourselves to higher standards. We must ensure that diversity and inclusion are central to our everyday business and core values. We will do better in the future.
Apologies are the easy part, though. It’s on Microsoft to stop this from happening again, and ensure their outreach to women seems genuine.