Unfortunately, the media has been plagued more than usual with reports of sexual misconduct accusations. It's an unfortunate truth to our society that so many feel the need to protect themselves with silence, but now the courage to speak out has begun to sweep through many different industries - and the gaming community is no different. Because of this, Microsoft has officially pledged to end the secrecy regarding sexual harassment claims.
Many companies have policies in place that keep these kinds of cases out of court, while keeping them shoved back and hidden from public eyes. Though protection is generally a good thing, sometimes these same policies allow for more shadier practices to occur while also seemingly giving serial offenders a free pass to continue on with their conduct. According to a recent report from the New York Times, Microsoft is looking to remove that blanket completely:
“The silencing of people’s voices has clearly had an impact in perpetuating sexual harassment,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, said during an interview. “What this legislation does is ensure that peoples’ voices can always be heard by going to court, if that’s what it takes for those voices to be heard,” Mr. Smith said. “It’s the kind of step that can make a difference.”
Microsoft's call to action is to propose a new law that will make forced arbitration agreements illegal, eliminating the convenient means of hiding, and burying, sexual harassment cases. This is one of many ways that consumers can see a dramatic shift in industries covering all spectrum. Most recently, the scandal involving famed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has acted as a catalyst for much needed change. Even more recently, and more pertinent to the gaming industry, IGN had their own run in when they were forced to publicly acknowledge that they handled their own reports of sexual misconduct in less favorable ways.
The light at the end of this dark tunnel is awareness, and that is what we need to move forward and make the changes needed.