Experts Speak On Jeff Zucker And Allison...But Won't Say What They Think
Print Friendly and PDF

This mysterious op-ed in the New York Times repeatedly complaining that corporations’ office romance policies are all over the map never gets around to telling us what the authors think the policies should be.

Jeff Zucker and the Reckoning Over Office Romances
Feb. 3, 2022

By Joanne Lipman and Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld

Ms. Lipman is the author of “That’s What She Said: What Men and Women Need to Know About Working Together.” Mr. Sonnenfeld is a professor at the Yale School of Management.

The headlines about the resignation of CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, over his romantic relationship with a colleague are electrifying CNN’s defenders and antagonists alike and fueling endless speculation about possible corporate power plays behind the scenes. For those, like us, who have been writing for years about men, women and the workplace, this unfolding scandal also points out how difficult it is to regulate office romance and how unevenly corporate policies around consensual relationships are enforced.

And then some speculation about the divorced Zucker’s affair with a divorced lady underling, the Cuomos, falling ratings, merger, etc. I don’t have cable TV so I have very little opinion on cable news.

Whatever the boardroom drama, this is yet another chapter in the tortured history of companies’ bungled attempts at dealing with office romance. The rules are all over the place. Enforcement is inconsistent. …

Yet companies still haven’t figured out how to navigate these waters. …

There is no consensus in corporate America, however, about what is considered acceptable. Companies’ stated rules are all over the map.

… Seeing the fallout at CNN, the leaders of every company in America, even those that are not so squarely in the public eye, should be thinking hard about their own office romance policies: How clear are they? And how consistently are they enforced?

… These are the kinds of questions emerging every day, right now, probably in your own organization. A 2019 survey found that 41 percent of employees aren’t even sure what their company’s position on workplace romance is. Companies owe their employees this clarity. Organizations need to specify what constitutes a relationship, to whom and when to report it, and in what circumstances it requires an adjustment in position for one or both people.

At the same time, organizations need to realize that consensual relationships between peers exist and not reflexively demonize them.

It’s about time offices figured out how to deal with them.

My guess is that it’s an ad for the authors’ consulting business: Hire us and we’ll tell you what your office romance policy should be. But until we get that first payment, it’s a secret!

[Comment at]

Print Friendly and PDF