Xbox is apologizing for hiring scantily-clad dancers for their Game Developers Conference party. The event came on the same day that Microsoft hosted a Women in Games Luncheon. Many women, like Kamina Vincent, spoke out on Twitter and other social media about how the experience made them feel uncomfortable and alienated.
They were dancing on podiums.
(Deleted originals to blur faces of the dancers) pic.twitter.com/pG1BxmtbnO
— Kamina Vincent (@spamoir) March 18, 2016
On Twitter Vincent specified that she has no problem with the women themselves, but instead with the organizers of the event. She talked with The Mary Sue about why hiring the women at the Xbox event was a problem.
“Having entertainment provided by women in that manner has lead to men confusing women involved in development as part of the hired entertainment. Decisions like these reinforce that women are decoration instead of a part of the industry. Games development skews heavily male. Events like this, leaving women feeling uneasy and devalued, contributes to women being marginalised in the industry.”
The head of Xbox Game Marketing Aaron Greenberg also shared his upset at the choice to hire women dressed as schoolgirls for a professional event.
— Aaron Greenberg (@aarongreenberg) March 18, 2016
Microsoft has since apologized, and the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, sent this email to his staff:
“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.”