Tencent, the Chinese company behind the popular messaging service WeChat, apologized for hosting a sexually suggestive game during one of its teams’ dinner party.
The activity took place at an annual gathering of the company’s Instant Messaging Application Department, the team responsible for the messaging app QQ. Footage of the parlor game shows female employees kneeling and opening water bottles tucked between the legs of males with their mouths.
The clip went viral in Chinese social media and drew criticism from displeased netizens. As a result, Tencent released a statement condemning the activity over Zhihu, China’s version of Quora, Bloomberg reported. In addition, it promised that such mistakes will never happen again.
Meanwhile, in an internal notice, an executive apologized for his team’s actions (via Mashable):
“As department head, I sincerely apologise, especially to the female colleagues who felt uncomfortable or offended. We will tackle this problem head on and correct our values, and we want to say sorry to our female colleagues. The annual party is a department activity, and represents the company’s image; we’ve lapsed in our oversight of the party games, and have caused much inconvenience. The various opinions, suggestions and criticisms by everyone have been taken into account, and I can only hope that you can stop circulating the video to protect our colleagues’ privacy.”
Alongside netizens, businesswomen also spoke over the issue. Former 500 Startups investor Rui Ma commented, “I’m quite shocked that this happened at Tencent.”
Charlotte Han, a 500 Startups partnership manager based in Beijing, expressed her surprise:
“It’s quite shocking because my impression was that things were improving. And then this happens. A lot of stereotype challenges that Chinese women face come from social and culture expectations.”
Meanwhile, Daisy Qiu, founder of a women’s career consultancy, said the game was a “public insult.”
As of press time, there are no women among Tencent’s C-suite executives.
Here’s how the game went: