Xbox Afterparty Requires More Than Apology

The incident at the Xbox afterparty at the Game Developers Conference (GDC16) this week is more than unfortunate, it’s completely unacceptable. There is no other way to describe it. While Microsoft’s apology is a good start, it shouldn’t end there.

Offending at least half of your potential customers while subjecting employees and coworkers to demeaning behavior is not a strategy for success. It is, in Microsoft Xbox head Phil Spencer’s own words, “unequivocally wrong.” And if it’s not to be tolerated, as he also indicated, there must be clear and public consequences. The reality is that this type of behavior and its underlying mentality have had negative consequences for women in technology for years. This toxic culture is what drives women out of the industry to the detriment of us all.

Technology companies and the industry overall need to hold themselves to a higher standard and do better now — not at some ambiguous future date. Actions have consequences, and it is time to take action to demonstrate that the behavior alienating and demeaning women must stop.

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