Native Instruments have issued an apology following claims of racism, discrimination and gaslighting from former staff members. The statement comes after multiple former employees criticised the German company for inaction over concerns raised by staff members over a promotional campaign that used a racial slur as part of an artists’ moniker.
The campaign in question was a 2017 Maschine promotional video highlighting a Lisbon collective called Principe, including an artist called DJ N-Fox, that’s now been removed from the NI website. The video is still available on the Maschine Facebook page.
Jessy Halison, a former staff member who worked as a QA engineer in Berlin, posted on LinkedIn, claiming that NI staff members raised concerns with management at the time regarding the release of “a campaign with the N-Word, despite warning and calls in from their (black and brown female) employees.” Halison’s post came after NI released their own statement around the BLM movement, claiming to stand in “solidarity with everyone fighting against racism and social injustice in our society. We are listening, learning and looking into how we can best help to amplify voices against racism and be part of the force for change.”
Halison’s comments triggered more previous employees to come forward, including founder of long-running music website Truants and former NI employee Soraya Brouwer, who worked in artist relations from 2016 to 2019. She replied: “In 2018, the Native Instruments headquarters in Berlin released a campaign featuring DJ N-fox despite many warnings from BIPOC employees and white allies to not release it, as the messaging around it was severely lacking. Whilst these discussions were ongoing, some of our white colleagues freely used the n-word when referring to the said campaign. Black employees were gaslighted by senior members of staff. I still think about this often, and it's still as painful now as it was then.”
Another former employee, Nadia Says, also claimed that she spoke up about racism within the company and “when I reported them, nobody moved or I was even asked to remain silent.” She continued: “I was at NI for only a year, there were racist incidents regularly, also sexist incidents, and ableism issues as well. In the end I had to quit a job I loved and was passionate about to salvage my physical and mental health.”
The discussion prompted an original "committing to do better" statement from company CTO Mate Gallic and CEO Daniel Haver on June 11th.
That statement was dismissed by the former employees who initially raised concerns, as reported by Resident Advisor, with Halison claiming: “We received a similar internal statement in 2017... I have several questions that I shared that remain unanswered, and I urge Daniel Haver to publicly respond to all the questions asked in the LinkedIn thread…”
The new statement, released Monday June 22nd on Native Instruments’ website, partly reads:
“Recently, current and former colleagues have shared their experiences of working at Native Instruments, bringing to light several examples of BIPOC and diverse voices being ignored, alongside wider issues of inequality and lack of accountability in our workplace and culture. The issues were raised in response to a post we made in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. What we were saying outwardly was in stark contrast to their experiences.
“To our former colleagues: We are deeply sorry for what happened. Thank you for all of your contributions to NI despite the challenges you faced while working with us, and for your efforts even now to help make NI better. We also want to thank those who have spoken out via social media, holding us to account and calling on us to do better.
“Today we want to share our first steps towards ensuring those kinds of experiences become a thing of the past. We are committed to fostering an inclusive workplace with equal treatment and opportunities for all – no matter their ethnicity, gender, age, ability, belief, or sexual orientation. There’s a lot of work to be done, and we need to take a hard look at all aspects of our ways of working.”