Human resources expert discusses latest scandal and whether office dating policies are regressive
Senior executive Mark Wiseman was recently terminated from asset management firm Black Rock (where he was rumored to be next-in-line to be CEO) due to a consensual relationship with a coworker. Former McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook suffered a similar fate back in November.
The public scandals took a toll not only on the people involved but also the companies and their shareholders, calling into question the concept of office dating policies and whether employers have the right to impose on their staff’s love lives.
“The reality is that 1 in 3 Americans admits to dating a coworker,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA, an employment solutions firm with locations across the country. “Developing feelings for your coworkers is much more common than employers may like to admit, but in the #MeToo era, it’s doubly important for companies to make sure that they are doing everything they can to keep their workplaces safe.”
Wilson says the problems begin when offices don’t have clear-cut dating policies and fraternization regulations.
“The reason Wiseman was terminated from his position was not because he was simply dating a fellow Black Rock employee. The problem was that he did not reveal the relationship to his supervisors. This is required by Black Rock, and many other companies,” explains Wilson. “It may feel like an invasion of privacy, but this is how companies are able to protect their own interests and ensure that there is no favoritism or inappropriate conduct in the office.”
Wilson goes on to explain that in most workplaces, it is a good idea for there to be a written policy that supervisors are not able to have romantic relationships with people who are directly under them, in order to ensure that no one is treated unfairly.
“These recent terminations should hopefully serve as a wakeup call to companies which have not updated their employee handbooks in a while, or to companies who do not have any policies about dating,” says Wilson. “In particular, industries which are often rife with romantic relationships such as the hospitality industry should make sure that they aren’t being lax or turning a blind eye to possible coworker liaisons.”
The employment trends expert concludes by saying, “While every employee has the right to privacy, that right does not supersede the company’s legal responsibility to make sure that their workplace is fair, equitable, and safe.”
For more on this topic, please contact Rob Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.