In 2019, Steve Easterbook, CEO of McDonalds was fired for having a consensual relationship with an employee which was forbidden in their policy. Within the past 18 months, Easterbook was the fifth CEO to lose his job over a consensual workplace relationship.
About these relationships, Gautier said: “Organisations are recruiting based on shared values and like-mindedness. You could say that they unwittingly create the perfect playground for romances to flourish. When I did some research on this several years ago, my interviewees told me that, because they were so petrified of being stigmatised in the office, their productivity actually increased.”
Discussing the idea that workplace romances may be an abuse of power, Gautier said: “There’s this stereotypical view that the junior female in that relationship is considered weak, vulnerable. But if they’re two consenting adults, where is the vulnerability there? We’re just making the assumption that the woman at the junior end can’t take care of herself.”