If No Co-Worker Relationships Was Enforced, I Wouldn't Have Met My Husband
McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook was fired earlier this month after violating company policy and engaging in a “consensual relationship with an employee.”
The ‘no co-worker relationship’ policy of McDonalds is said to be linked, in part, to the scrutiny of company and business executives and how they have treated their employees amid the #MeToo social media movement.
The #MeToo movement has played a significant role in highlighting the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, especially as a result of inherent power dynamics. The recent decision of McDonald’s to fire their successful CEO, is a clear statement about the corporation’s values and their resolve to follow through on them in regard to this issue.
And yes, it is fantastic to see that a massive corporation like McDonalds is leading by example and setting a high standard when it comes to the issue of sexual harassment. It is also commendable to see they are actually following the policies they themselves have set because let’s be honest, many don’t.
But I do wonder whether it is fair? You see, while I am completely supportive of the #MeToo movement, I am also fully aware that if a rule like this existed in a past workplace of mine, I would never have started a relationship with my now husband. And that makes me sad.
My husband of nearly 10 years and I met at a media company that employed both of us about 12 years ago. I moved interstate to begin working there, to get my foot in the door in this very competitive industry and he had been at this workplace for five years, employed in a much more senior position than me.
Although not the CEO power dynamic of the McDonalds situation, arguably there was still one, him as a senior producer, and myself as a production assistant, new to the workplace and to the city I was living in.
But for us, this was not a dynamic in our romantic relationship, just as I am sure it isn’t for many partners who also work together. Like anything, it is unique to the people, and not necessarily their employment position.
Our relationship was equal and fair. There were no misuses of power, nothing untoward -- just two people who liked each other, who also worked in the same office space.
My husband and I met and began dating quite quickly, in fact we were ‘official’ within the first couple of weeks of me starting work there. While not unprofessional or PDA-ing during office hours, we also weren’t secretive about the relationship and the majority of our workplace knew within a month or so of us dating.
There were no issues created by this, no rules broken, it was just what it was and work carried on as per usual. Romantically though, ours was a relationship on healthy steroids -- fast moving, strong and all encompassing.
By the end of that year we had moved in together, then moved to another state together and adopted a cat -- our very first fur baby. Less than two years later we were married.
In part, our fast-tracked relationship was due to working together in its initial stages because we saw each other nearly every day, for the majority of the day. Doing this set up some really positive and beneficial elements within our relationship, ones that created solid foundations for us and our future.
From very early on we learned to have a professional respect for each other and our respective roles. We were able to set clear boundaries of our relationship at work and then a different set at home.
We learnt quickly our strengths, weaknesses, the importance of clear and open communication and when to give each other space, qualities that have remained ever since and helped us along the way.
Although in today’s climate relationships with fellow employees is becoming more and more frowned upon or even outlawed all together, the reality is, my example is by far one of a kind. Many couples have met their long-term partners at work.
From other past workplaces I have worked within, I can count at least five couples who have met at work and who subsequently began a romantic relationship that was long term in nature, many of whom are still happily together today.
According to a study by Stanford and the University of New Mexico, 11 percent of couples meet at work and in 1995 this was 19 percent. Although there has been a drop (due to the increase in online dating) it still makes up a significant number of couples who have met through the workplace.
I think about my own life and how different it would have been if our employer had a policy that would have not allowed me to date my now husband.
I wouldn’t have had begun a relationship with a loving, amazing man.
I wouldn’t have had 12 years of the best memories of my life.
I wouldn’t have married my best friend.
I wouldn’t have my two daughters.
Surely denying a person all of this would have been the biggest injustice?
Featured image: Supplied