Office romance! Why banning such romantic relationships at workplace is good?

Office romance! Many companies prohibit it even if it is consensual. The latest celebrity to get the kick is CNN President, Jeff Zucker. He resigned on 2 February 2022 because he had a secret relationship with his subordinate which was exposed recently.

Jeff Zucker and his resignation due to office romance

The resignation of CNN President, Jeff Zucker comes in the wake of exposure of his office romance. He had a consensual relationship with one of his subordinates. But it is considered wrong because power and authority could probably have a role in it. Jeff stepped down from his authoritative post on 2 February 2022. He said in a statement:

” I was required to disclose but I did not. I was wrong.”

Jeff Zucker
Jeff Zucker (Source: The verge)

Other executives and leaders who failed company policy

Every big company has a policy that the boss should not have any relationship with another person in the company and especially subordinate. This is because there is high likelihood that the boss with power might persuade or compel the subordinate to kneel down to the power and authority in order to save his or her job. Hence it would not be a consensual relationship even though it overtly appears so. Sine companies require a disclosure of such relationships though they do not ban it.

Steve Easterbrook
Steve Easterbrook (Source: The New York Times)

Many executives and leaders these days have been either sacked or forced to resign due to failure to comply with this company policy. Steve Easterbrook was McDonald’s CEO and president since 2015. He had to leave the post for romancing another company employee. American politician, Katie Hill, representative from California had resigned for similar reasons on 3 November 2019 and had tweeted:

It is with a broken heart that today I announce my resignation from Congress. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I believe it is the best thing for my constituents, my community, and our country.”

She allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with a staffer during campaign. This was before she became Member of Congress. On similar grounds, The University of Michigan Board of Regents had sacked its President, Mark Schlissel after investigation on receipt of an anonymous complaint that he was indulging in office romance. They wrote a letter to Mark that read:

As you know, the regents received an anonymous complaint regarding an alleged sexual affair between you and a subordinate. An investigation has revealed that your interactions with the subordinate were inconsistent with promoting the dignity and reputation of the University of Michigan,”

Is banning office romance right?

The #MeToo movement has made organizations and academic institutions reevaluate their company policies on such relationships in office. They started prohibiting romances amongst office staff and especially between those where power imbalance exists. They ban relationships between boss and direct reports. Academic institutes also do not allow such relationships especially between professors and students. They consider them problematic.

Office romance
Office romance (Source: TOI)

There are a significant number of people against such bans. They feel that employers cannot act as parents. And hence they should not interfere in the private lives of their employees. They feel that such policing is wrong. The managers cannot stop adult employees from going on to date a person they like by mutual consent.

But in a situation where there is power imbalance, the junior might be uncomfortable saying no to the romantic advances of a superior. Power dynamics come into play her and therefore one cannot call it a consensual relationship. The superior may be unaware of this effect on their subordinate. But it is an abuse if power and hence not correct. Also, even when a junior feels to say but he or she may be unable to say so in actual life conditions.

Hence it seems better to ban such relationship. Revenges, favoritism, victimization ends and people at workplace become safe.

Short bio on Jeff Zucker

Jeff Zucker is an American media personality who resigned as CNN President. More bio…