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Corporate Recreational Mating — How Prevalent is It? — A Path to Business Failure
“WOW DENISE, THOSE TIGHT JEANS SURE LOOK GOOD. DO YOU WANT TO SELL THEM?”
“NO, SWEETIE, BUT YOU CAN RENT THEM FOR A LITTLE WHILE.”
Starting this article with that actual quote and giving other real life examples of the type of interaction that goes on in many offices creates a self imposed need in my mind to assure you, the reader, that we will be discussing Sexual Harassment in the work place later in this article.
Recreational mating in the work place has been going on since organized business began. This term, Corporate Recreational Mating as used in this article does not pertain to simple “office dating” that goes on between two single adults that happen to work at the same place of business.
What we are going to discuss in this article is the type of recreational mating that has an impact on the performance of the business itself. Most of this type of recreation takes place among members of upper management and a high percentage of it is illicit. In other words, one or both of the participants are married and not to each other.
This is a situation that exists in many corporations, it’s rarely reported, often ignored and in spite of the participants attempts at secrecy, it is often a well traveled rumor, if not a fact.
In their January 2003 issue, Stuff Magazine reported on a survey done with 3000 participants revealing what goes on within the office walls.
“THEY’VE TURNED BOARDROOMS INTO BEDROOMS, GIVING A WHOLE NEW SPIN ON SPREADSHEETS.”
Before going on I should preface my remarks by admitting that I am definitely a card carrying member of the “Baby Boomers”. Being more honest I have to admit that during the early years of my career, the 70’s, I undoubtedly could have been classified as a male chauvinistic pig. I could have qualified as poster child for the official “Male Chauvinistic Pig” movement. However, experience has taught me a very important lesson regarding leadership and it’s personal relationship with employees
I now have a much greater appreciation for the abilities, the intelligence, and the value of female employees. Today, I firmly believe women in the workplace are the most under utilized asset this country has. We have made a lot of progress in the last two decades but we have a long way to go.
“STUFF” magazine survey of 3000 participants revealed that 51% confessed to office affairs. Out of them, 71% slept with one to three partners other than their spouse or significant other. Sixty percent admitted to actually having sex in the office with the following locations noted.
o Bathroom ………………… 24%
o Reception Area …………… 6%
o Conference Table …………22%
o Boss’s Desk ………………20%
o Photo Copier ……………… 6%
o Parking Lot…………………15%
Other magazines have reported varying degrees of the same survey. One well read woman’s magazine reported 53% of the males surveyed admitted to extra marital affairs while 23% of the women surveyed admitted the same. The office is the most likely place to meet someone since you spend more than 50% of your waking hours there. That statistic is mind boggling. It would suggest that the next time you attend a business meeting and look around the room, chances are that more than half but less than 75% of the mixed crowd is having or has had an extra marital affair…
This sounds like a chauvinistic sexist commentary. It probably is although it’s not meant to be. The comments and actual quotes are not meant to give the impression that all women in the work force are having sex with their co-workers or bosses. It is not meant to imply that most women are under the influence of the “Cleopatra Inheritance” and use their Feminine Qualities like the individual in the following quote.
“I KNOW HOW TO USE ALL MY ASSETS,” SHE REPLIED AS SHE PLACED HER HANDS STRATEGICALLY ON HER CHEST.
Let me state that it is an uncontested fact that the majority of females work very hard in the office and are dedicated wives. They keep their nose to the grind stone and they too are also disgusted by the minority of women that use their sexual prowess to advance their careers.
The “Cleopatra Inheritance” is a force so powerful that it can topple nations. Look at the publicity our former president Bill Clinton received regarding his relationships with a number of women. Not every woman is subject to be the recipient of this phenomenon. And not every woman that does inherit this power recognize it. Most of those that do recognize it don’t abuse it. But there is a minority of women that recognize this power they have over men at a very early age and begin using it. This power can bring the strongest man to his knees, fill his eyes with tears and make him do just about anything she wishes. There are a few women who have perfected this power. They have it under control and use it to advance their careers.
Women utilizing the “Cleopatra Inheritance” are very clever. They are not the “Sexy Dumb Blondes” characterized by the brunt of many of man’s chauvinistic jokes.
Women who use their inheritance to advance their careers focus clearly on their objectives. They are blondes, brunettes, red heads and every other hair style imaginable. In other words, it has nothing to do with their hair coloring. They know what they want and they go after it. Men are weak in their defense when faced with this inheritance. Its power is overwhelming and consuming. Fortunately, women who use this power are in the minority, a much smaller number than their chauvinistic counterparts of the male population in the work place.
“Two years prior to becoming CFO she was a payroll clerk in the accounting department. She had no degree and a limited knowledge of accounting. Today she is CFO of a $500 million dollar company making a six-figure income.”
The success of this individual can’t be traced to her academic credentials, she has none. It can’t be traced to her experience, she was a payroll clerk. But it can be traced to her personal relationship with the president and her knowledge, control and use of the “Cleopatra Inheritance” factor.
Control is a very critical factor. Love is generally not an acceptable alternative. Love complicates things and is rarely involved in this career enhancing experience. When the male does fall victim to this process, falls in love and may even want to leave his wife, the female panics. Love challenges her control of the situation. This is a typical response to the early warning signs from the victim that thoughts of love have entered his psychic.
Please forgive me if it sounds like I am trying to make the man the victim here. There are many more incidents where the male utilizes the power of his position to influence and intimidate the female to get what he wants as well. That’s called sexual harassment which we will discuss in detail in this article.
The Internet provides a lot of statistics and information regarding corporate recreational mating. Much of this insight is provided by the victims who are generally hurt in the process, the other spouse.
“Two months ago I found out that my husband had an affair with a secretary in his office. She got pregnant and had my husband’s child who is now two years old. I can’t forgive or forget this horrible thing. We have been married twenty years. He knew from the beginning that the child was his and he never told me. His girlfriend called me and told me all about it. I can’t go on in this marriage because I don’t trust him.”
“I’m twenty eight years old. My wife and I have been married for almost six years. We are both Christians. We don’t have children. I came home from work one day to find a message that said, “I have to go away and think.” I knew what was going on. It was the guy from her work. She was having an affair. I caught them in the parking lot at work kissing. She claimed it was a thank you kiss for a favor he had done. I knew that was crap. I actually tried to be friends with him. Just before she left to be with him, we all spent the weekend together boating. What a fool I was. She’s with him now.”
Casual encounters that sprout into full blown office romances are not uncommon given the amount of time we spend at work. Offices provide a safe haven and many of the necessary components for a connection, even an illicit one. Many employers fear that workplace romances cut productivity, result in office jealousies and unnecessary distractions. But, what do you do if it’s the boss or other executive management personnel involved in this type of office affairs?
There’s not much you can do if you want to remain employed. Executives that have affairs with married colleagues display moronic behavior. It does affect their work and no matter how secretive they think they are, they will eventually be exposed. These executives become known as players, bottom feeders with no morals. It’s a combination of the power of the Cleopatra Inheritance Syndrome and their own self indulgent egos that controls these individuals. It may also be their power and initiative alone taking advantage of younger female employees that need their job desperately.
Things that often occur without the knowledge of the participants include them becoming the brunt of many office jokes and rumors. They may become cartoon characters and laughed at in the lunch room. Their e-mails, cell phones and other means of communication may one day prove to be there down fall no matter how careful they think they have been. Sometimes conflicts become public.
“Are those reports ready Jennifer?” “No, James, I was with you all night trying out most of the Kama Sutra positions.”
Public displays of bickering and arguments between these individuals regardless of their rank in the hierarchy is common place. This type of public arguing heightens the sensitivity of everyone in the office to what may or may not be going on. It brings to the forefront inequities in the power structure. People resent the attention, the special treatment and the fact that she or he can get away with murder while everyone else tows the line. Agreement between the two on any topic carries no validity. The conclusion is that they are a couple so they have no reason not to agree. Security leaks are the most risk to the company in these situations. It’s amazing what everyone reveals beneath the sheets. There is no confidentiality confinement in an illicit relationship between boss and employee. That brings us to the concluding topic for this article.
With all this office romance , corporate mating and illicit relationships occurring, what constitutes sexual harassment? Sexual harassment has existed since business began. The difference today in the 21st century is that it is now recognized. It is now enforced and business managers are forced to deal with it. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandated that every working person has the right to work in an environment free from harassment on the basis of sex.
Wow! What a profound statement. How does one determine the difference between unwanted sexual advances and welcomed sexual advances that later become unwanted. The answer is, it really doesn’t matter. The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as:
Unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
o A term or condition of employment is explicitly or implicitly made regarding submission to a request for sexual favor.
o Rejection or refusal to submit sexual favor is used as a basis for an employment decision.
o Such conduct has the purpose or effect to interfere with an individuals work performance or creates a hostile, intimidating environment.
There are actually two kinds of sexual harassment:
1. Quid Pro Quo:
Where employment decisions or expectations are based on an employees willingness to grant or deny sexual favors. (hiring decisions, shift schedules, salary increases etc.)
o Sexual favors demanded in exchange for promotion
o Terminating a subordinate because they ended a relationship
o Changing job performance expectations after subordinate refuses sexual advances.
2. Hostile Environment:
Where verbal or nonverbal behavior in the workplace Focuses on sexuality of a person, Is unwanted, Is severe or pervasive enough to affect the persons work environment.
o Off color jokes or teasing
o Comments about body parts or sex life
o Suggestive pictures or calendars or cartoons
o Suggestive e-mails or forwarded jokes and pictures.
o Leering or staring
o Repeated requests for dates after being told no
o Excessive attention in the form of love letters, telephone calls or gifts
o Touching–brushing against, pats, hugs, shoulder rubs or pinches
o Assault or rape
The basis or foundation to sexual harassment is defined as being unwelcome, unwanted or unsolicited conduct that is imposed on a person who regards such conduct as offensive. That is sexual harassment. When a person communicates that the conduct is unwelcome then it becomes illegal to repeat it. This is true even if the conduct is disguised as innuendos or subtle inferences, it is unlawful.
Sexual harassment is not an expression of sexual desire. It is plainly an inappropriate use of power. Subtle infringements are the most common and the most difficult to detect and prove. Yet, they are equally damaging and just as illegal as an open forward sexual advance.
Sexual harassment that occurs during the corporate mating process is a form of indirect harassment. If an equally qualified person is passed over for promotion because the boss is sleeping with the person he promotes then that person has been illegally discriminated against due to indirect sexual harassment. This situation occurs quite frequently but is rarely reported. Unchecked sexual harassment can also have other subtle consequences. People witnessing the harassment may feel the same loss or damage. Harassment that is ignored or denied can cause overall morale to deteriorate. Productivity will suffer and expose the organization to potential litigation.
The Federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission has issued guidelines on sexual harassment under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The guidelines, Section 1604.11 (29 cfr Article XIV, part 1604) are listed below.
Harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of sc. 703 of Title VII. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment(1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individuals employment, (2) submission too or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individuals work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
In determining whether alleged conduct constitutes sexual harassment, the Commission will look at the record as a whole and at the totality of circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. The determination of the legality of a particular action will be made from the facts, on a case by case basis.
Applying general Title VII principles, an employer, employment agency joint apprenticeship committee or labor organization (herein collectively referred to as employer) is responsible for its acts and those of its agents and supervisory personnel with respect to sexual harassment, regardless of whether the employer knew or should have known of their occurrence. The Commission will examine the circumstance of the particular employment relationship and the job functions performed by the individual in determining whether an individual acts in either a supervisory or agency capacity.
With respect to conduct between fellow employees, an employer is responsible for acts of sexual harassment in the workplace where the employer, its agents or supervisory personnel know or should have known of the conduct, unless it can show that it took immediate and appropriate corrective action.
An employer may also be responsible for the acts of non employees, with respect to sexual harassment of employees in the workplace, if the employer knows or should have known of the conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. In reviewing these cases, the Commission will consider the extent of the employers control and any other legal responsibility which the employer may have with respect to the conduct of such non employee.
Prevention is the best tool for the elimination of sexual harassment. An employer should take all steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring, such as affirmatively raising the subject, expressing strong disapproval, developing appropriate sanctions, informing employees of their right to raise and how to raise the issue of harassment under Title VII and developing methods to sensitize all concerned.
Other related practices, where employment opportunities or benefits are granted because of an individuals submission to the employers sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, the employer may be held liable for unlawful sex discrimination against other persons who were qualified for but denied that employment opportunity or benefit.
Handling complaints is not easy. Knowing what to say and what to do isn’t taught in Management 101. Sexual harassment isn’t your ordinary everyday problem. The first thing you must do is listen intently. Assure them that you are taking them seriously because it is a serious matter. Express no opinion, just listen and take notes. Do not be biased. Encourage them to give specific details. It is very important that you ask them specifically how they reacted, communicated the fact that this action was unacceptable.
The next step is to interview the alleged offender. He or she has the right to hear and respond to the accusations. Be sure to conduct the interview in the same, straightforward, unbiased manner you did when you talked to the person who filed the complaint. If no resolution or conclusion is made and the offender denies the behavior or has a variation of the story, you will need to go to the next step.
Inform your corporate attorney and seek his advice. With your attorney’s approval, initiate an investigation and be prepared to monitor the workplace to ensure that the harassment stops. It’s your responsibility to protect the person who filed the complaint. You may want to take steps to keep the two parties involved apart temporarily by reassigning one or the other until the matter is resolved.
As you conduct the investigation, be as discreet as possible; only interview individuals who may have relevant information. Enlist any organization resources that may help or support your investigation; review the appropriate records before you actually interview any employees about the incident. You may find valuable information to direct the investigation, or even bring the investigation to a conclusion. The final step in the investigative process is to interview anyone who may have information or insights on what took place.
If you conduct a thorough investigation and still don’t have enough facts to draw a conclusion, you may find it appropriate to try bringing the two parties together to determine what really happened. This option should only be arranged if both parties agree to meet. This type of meeting can be very delicate and should be approached with a great deal of thought and planning.
Once you have gathered and analyzed all the information and concluded that the incident did, in fact, occur, consult your organization’s policy, review the case with your legal council and take disciplinary action. Be prepared to fully explain the results of your investigation and the action that will be taken. Explain to the harasser that he or she has the right to appeal the decision to a higher level. Lead Wolf leaders recognize the devastating effect that corporate recreational mating can have on the performance of the business. More importantly, they recognize the devastating effect it can have.
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