'Hard to work with' | Game designer boss admits she 'doesn't hire' white people

Game designer boss admits she 'doesn't hire' white people

A recent revelation by a game designer has ignited a fierce debate over discrimination and the importance of fostering diverse teams.

Dani Lalonders, an Associate Narrative Designer at EA-owned Cliffhanger Games, made headlines after admitting in an online stream at the Game Devs of Color Expo that she intentionally avoids hiring white people.

Lalonders, who previously worked on the video game ValiDate, which features a team composed entirely of people of color, justified her decision by stating that she wanted to create a safe environment by surrounding herself with individuals who shared similar experiences.

"I did that because I wanted to create a safe environment, and I know the best way for an environment to be safe is to be around people who are just like me," Lalonders said during her talk.

"I'm not saying white people create an unsafe environment, I'm saying it's hard to work with white people sometimes because sometimes they think something is okay, but it's actually a microaggression."

Her remarks, shared widely on social media platforms, particularly by the right-wing account Libs of TikTok, sparked outrage among critics who labelled her comments as racist and proof of discrimination.

Social media users, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, expressed their disapproval of Lalonders' stance.

Erfan Ebrahimnia, a web developer, denounced Lalonders' comments, emphasising the need for accountability and fair treatment in the workplace.

"Where has it gone wrong as a society that such a person can proudly be racist online without any repercussions?" Ebrahimnia stated. "This person is clearly incapable of leading a team and should be fired immediately."

The controversy surrounding Lalonders' remarks has also cast a shadow over Cliffhanger Games, particularly as the company is in the spotlight for its upcoming Black Panther video game.

Despite the company's advertising for "diverse, fearless artists to collaborate" on the project, criticism has mounted, with gamers condemning Lalonders' comments and questioning the integrity of the game development process.

However, Lalonders' comments have also reignited discussions on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

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Research cited in response to the controversy highlights the benefits of cognitively diverse teams, which have been shown to solve problems faster and make decisions more efficiently than homogenous teams.

Additionally, studies have demonstrated that organisations committed to diversity and inclusion experience increased innovation and performance.

A 2013 report by Deloitte found that when employees ‘think their organisation is committed to and supportive of diversity, and they feel included’, their ability to innovate increases by 83%.

As workplaces strive to become more inclusive, discussions sparked by incidents like Lalonders' remarks serve as reminders of the ongoing challenges and opportunities in building diverse and equitable environments.

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