'Slaves' | Microsoft firm at centre of racist analogy row

Microsoft firm at centre of racist analogy row

A former employee at Microsoft’s streaming service Mixer has shared apparent details of the racism he experienced while working at the platform, which was shut down earlier this week.

Milan Lee, an ex-Community Acquisition Manager at Mixer, shared a blog describing his time at the business, where he alleged that he was singled out for being one of the few black employees at the company. He also added that there was inaction from upper level management when a racist analogy was used during a company meeting, reported Kotaku.

In his blog post, Lee claimed that the time he spent at Mixer was considered the worst professional experience of his life due to the racism he encountered.

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“I worked at Microsoft for two years starting in 2017. In 2018 I relocated to Seattle to work on the Mixer team. I was beyond happy and anxious to have the ability to finally work in the gaming industry. The flip side to all of this is crazy, this experience was the worst I’ve ever had professionally and it’s all due to RACISM,” Lee wrote.

“I was one of the only black people working at Mixer during my tenure. While at a conference I was pulled aside and told that the only reason I was hired is because I am ‘street smart.’ The first thing that popped into my head at the time was affirmative action. I believed I was only hired to meet a diversity goal because I was black. I decided to brush it off and let it go.”

He went on to reveal occasions where one of his managers described partnered Mixer streamers as ‘slaves’ and herself as their ‘slave master’.

Lee continued: “Within that meeting I told her why I was angry and why her using that analogy was not okay. She decided to defend her statement and even had the nerve to Google that analogy to prove why it was okay. After Google showed her it was never okay to use that analogy, she told me I need to work on myself. If I wanted to go far in this industry I need to work on my emotions and feelings to similar comments. After this meeting I knew I was leaving.”

When Lee had decided to take his concerns to higher-level management and then later on to HR, it soon transpired that the HR department had not been made aware of these issues by senior management.

Despite this, an investigation was launched through the legal team and continued even after Lee left the business. However, the final results were ‘not guilty’ according to Lee.

He added in his post: “The reason my manager was not penalised and the reason she still has her job today is because she cannot be racist. The reason she cannot be racist is because she hired a black person. This is why you haven’t seen me in any streams. I do not care about how big a company is or their market share. If we do not have the same values, if you cannot be intelligent enough to know racism isn’t tolerated then I will not work for you or your company.”

After posting the allegations online, Mixer tweeted:

Racial discrimination

This isn’t the first time a company has come under fire regards racial discrimination. Earlier this month HR Grapevine reported on the news that a group of Adidas workers had penned a letter to executives asking them to examine whether the firm’s HR chief had responded appropriately to racial issues at the sportswear company.

83 employees from five of the company’s offices signed the letter, reported CNN Business, which asked the supervisory Board to launch a probe into HR Chief Karen Parkin as part of a wider effort to tackle racial inequality within the company.

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Following the death of George Floyd in the US, many individuals have shared their own experiences when it comes to racial discrimination across social media platforms, while also publicly shaming senior leaders for not supporting individuals during this time in the workplace.

In UK law, the 2010 Equality Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against employees, jobseekers and trainees because of race, which includes the different elements of colour, nationality and ethnic or national origin. Acas states: “For example, this would include turning down the best applicant for a job because they are Nigerian and the employer feels they would not 'fit in' with the rest of the staff because they are all English.”

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