Challenges and Opportunities
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Mary C. Mattis
Chapter 8: On the ethics of office romance: developing a moral compass for the workplace
8. On the ethics of ofﬁce romance: developing a moral compass for the workplace Lisa A. Mainiero INTRODUCTION Consider this dilemma: you have just been hired by a major consulting ﬁrm to work on an important $10 million account. Your ability to handle this assignment effectively will make or break your future promotional status in the ﬁrm. On your team, you have hired some of the best and the brightest MBAs that universities have to offer. One of the new highly qualiﬁed MBAs is unmarried, adorable and interested. He has sent you an email asking you to attend a musical performance in the city where you are both working that night. Should you say yes? Or a resounding no? Or, perhaps … a maybe? Ofﬁce romances are here to stay, but love, lust and labor have long been strange bedfellows. It has long been accepted that personal relationships may compromise otherwise objective business decisions. This is the strife that often makes for tantalizing movie fodder, such as that which was shown in the ﬁlm Disclosure,1 as well as highly polarized corporate politics, such as the recent resignation of a Harvard Business Review editor when it became known that she bedded Jack Welch, then CEO of General Electric, while working on an article about him.2 The problem is that sex is a commodity that can be traded for power. Personal relationships may compromise objectivity, which in turn may lead to improper or misaligned business decisions. Ofﬁce romances...
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