Saturday, August 28, 2010

Illicit Sex ...

... it's not just for the vestry anymore.

Yes, folks, it seems that the clergy aren't the only ones who occasionally sleep with people they oughtn't. Apparently, even those corporate suit-and-tie types do as well. In remarkably high numbers.

A Harvard Business Review blog, linked above, reports on a survey by something called the Center for Work-Life Policy. The gist of the blog post seems to be that executives rise to the top with the help of "mentoring" relationships, and that female execs seeking to break into senior positions need to be mentored by older men, most of whom are married. This make sense. The problem is that, sometimes, this "mentoring" is actually what we specialists call "schtupping." Quite often, it would seem:

Thirty-four percent of executive women who participated in the survey that underlies the new study claim that they know a female colleague who has had an affair with the boss. (Indeed 15% of women at the director level or above admitted to having had such an affair themselves!) They also perceive that these liaisons sometimes yield a payoff: of those who know of an illicit affair, 37% claim that the woman involved received a career boost as a consequence.

This is not, mind you, dismissed as ethically neutral. The blog doesn't actually moralize -- no mention of adultery, or the abuse of power. But it does point to the damage that these relationships can do to the business as a whole:

Despite this apparent upside for individual women, illicit sexual liaisons often backfire and wreak serious damage in the workplace. For example, they are hugely demoralizing for teams. The CWLP data show that 61% of men and 70% of women lose respect for a leader involved in an affair. Most poisonous of all, when a junior woman is having a sexual dalliance with the boss, 60% of male executives and 65% of female executives suspect that salary hikes and plum assignments are being traded for sexual favors. This can have a disastrous effect on morale and productivity. Forty-eight percent of men and 56% of women feel animosity towards the involved couple, and 39% of men and 37% of women see a fall off in productivity as the team splinters. Talk about collateral damage!
This is as close to morality as the business community seems to come: an acknowledgment that certain behavior is bad for business.

Of course, for this evidence to put a stop to workplace affairs, it would be necessary for executives to put the interest of their team above that of their own careers (or in the case of the senior men, their own gratification). Absent a revolutionary change in the way executives are trained to think, not to mention compensated, this seems unlikely.


Pastor Joelle said...

What else this does is put every woman who was ever successful under suspicion of having slept her way to the top.

And yes I've taken all the workshops that teach this is ALL the fault of the "person in power" but my mama always taught me women who offer sex have a lot of power as well and when are women going to be held accountable for their culpability in this situation?

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

"The way executives are trained to think"...If that is referring to men executives, do we really think that they are trained to think that way? Maybe un-training is what is needed.

Yes, I know that is a sexist statement. Maybe we are talking biology and that we need to hand out bridles when someone gets an executive office.

And I agree with Joelle, women are also part of each of these equations, whether she is giving in or making herself obviously available, unless there is outright physical overpowering of her, ie rape. If a woman is on the way up in a company, she had best learn boundaries and other ways to act professional.