Microsoft has issued a statement over what it says was an "unequivocally wrong" move to hire female dancers dressed in schoolgirl-style outfits to entertain guests attending its after-party at the Games Development Conference (GDC).
Photos from the San Francisco Xbox event emerged on social media on Thursday night (17 March), as attendees took to the platform to blast the tech giant for the decision.
They were dancing on podiums.
(Deleted originals to blur faces of the dancers) pic.twitter.com/pG1BxmtbnO
— Kamina Vincent (@spamoir) March 18, 2016
Inappropriate? Not a big deal? @Microsoft hires scantily clad women to dance at #SF#tech party. @NightbeatTV 10p pic.twitter.com/I1Nibu6erJ — Veronica De La Cruz (@VeronicaDLCruz) March 19, 2016
Others pointed out that the stunt reinforced the notion that gaming is an industry by men, for men and was a setback to Microsoft's diversity initiatives.
Microsoft sponsors a Women in Games lunch and awards, but then has scantily clad women dancers at their GDC party. NVIDIA does similar.
— Lauren ClinnickGDC (@laurclinn) March 18, 2016
Disappointed in the images from last night's Microsoft party. Especially after so many great conversations about diversity this week. — Kayla (@kaylasara) March 18, 2016
Responding via a blog post head of Xbox Phil Spencer said the decision to hire the dancers "was absolutely not consistent or aligned" to the company's values.
"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," he added.