McDonalds exec Steve Easterbrook being fired for work romance is crazy – it’s what the office is for!
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Did you hear about the McDonalds chief executive who got fired for dating a colleague? Rachel Moore says it's crazy as having an office romance used to be all part of the fun of going to work
Rarely a day goes by without seeking answers to conundrums that leave me feeling out of touch and positively archaic.
This week, enlightenment on one long-term puzzle was delivered by McDonalds (without a bun and gherkin).
It revealed the answer to why so many people appear to be, unhappily, single, despite the myriad of dating apps and instant on-line hook-up and meet-up opportunities.
People are no longer meeting their life partners at work. They are not allowed.
Employers are banning love blossoming in the office, on the shop floor or in the factory. Colleague romances are strictly out of bounds.
Hearing the news that McDonalds had fired its chief executive because he was having a consensual relationship with an employee - a colleague - was shocking.
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Time was when nearly everyone met their partners, wives and husbands at work.
Work before Tinder was like one big dating app - eyes meeting over the typewriters, flirting in the canteen, getting together on works nights out.
It didn't just happen - people expected it. It was how life worked; if you didn't meet your 'one' in a pub or a club, or were school or university sweethearts, you would find them at work.
We all know people who married his or her boss.
Doctors married doctors, lawyers got hitched to lawyers and newsrooms, in my experience, were full of fledgling couples.
I used to worry for the future of those who 'married out'. It takes a broad mind and tolerance to understand the hours and pressures of some careers unless you're in them.
We used to joke that the then-Norwich Union was like joining a big dating agency. It felt a given that a job there would deliver a decent pension and a spouse.
Now, any shenanigans of that sort are more than simply frowned upon, they are sacking offences, as Steve Easterbrook discovered, taking his severance payment into the future with his love.
Protection from harassment threats and fear of liability and litigation appears to be behind more than 75% of companies forbidding relationships between and employee and someone in their chain-of-command, and increasingly companies are banning relationships of any kind between employees.
Although, companies dress the bans up as benevolent steps to protect the safety of their workers.
The new laws do, rightly, protect the junior from advances from a preying lascivious boss, or feeling pressured by an over-keen employee, and in-work relationships can be disruptive and divisive in a workplace.
They set strict black and white boundaries of behaviour.
But I can't help feel that moving towards a blanket 'no-romance here' rule in the workplace takes a bit of fun out of life.
Or we should all cut our losses, embrace a single life and be like actor Emma Watson, who describes herself as happily "self-partnered" rather than single, and all this searching for soul mate nonsense is a fun-sucking waste of time.
In a celebrity world petrified of any signs of ageing and obsessed with the fake to shroud the real, how joyful it was to see Keanu Reeves step out on to the red carpet for the first time with a partner clearly happy, relaxed and confident in her own skin.
Reeves and artist Alexandra Grant's grey hair, bare face, and at 55 and 46 both looking as nature intended, made the work of plastic surgeons look more grotesque.
That one photograph highlighted how wrong and distorted the industry of Botox, fillers, plumped up lips and hair extensions is, and Hollywood is to demand it and embed the expectation that disguising ageing is the only way.
SAD FOR MOTHERCARE
Our high street really is in crisis, and women are being hit hardest by shops folding like dominos. This week Mothercare folded hot on the heels of the Bonmarche chain.
A business going bust is seen as an economic story, but the real story is about its people.
This isn't about more empty shops and the loss of household names, it means thousands of people lose their jobs.
As retail is a sector with a predominantly female workforce, thousands of women are finding themselves unemployed with fewer chances of getting back to work, especially those in their 50s, with grown-up families who returned to retail hoping to stay there until retirement. In the national Mothercare workforce, 87% are women. The Royal Society of Arts reported that 108,000 retail jobs had been lost since 2011 and 70% were women
Where do women find new jobs if all they know is retail, a sector in serious contraction? They choose retail largely because of the flexibility it offers for a lifestyle of family and home demands. And the organisation found that the sector was also switching to more automated systems where it could, culling the customer-facing largely female roles replacing with warehouse roles for online services, largely taken by men.
Women made redundant tend to shrink out of sight, with a societal perception that "she's got an earning partner, so that's all right." It's far from all right. These women don't just lose a role and an income, they lose their identity, confidence and hope for a future.