Supervisors dating subordinates
So against this more enlightened landscape, there’s the question of whether the movement has the potential to kill the office romance for good.
“Oh no, I don’t think it’s ever going to die,” says Amy Baker, an associate professor who studies workplace romance at the University of New Haven.
Krzanich’s resignation, of course, occurred against the backdrop of the #Me Too movement and former Intel employees have suggested in press reports that it played a role in the matter’s speedy reconciliation.
Beyond the Krzanich episode, the #Me Too movement that’s triggered a reexamination of inappropriate behavior and women’s marginalization in the workplace has indeed cast workplace relationships in a new light.
Whereas they may have been considered harmless in the past, the movement has revealed how damaging romantic or sexual intent in the workplace—especially between a boss and a subordinate—can be.
Power dynamics can muddy the idea of consent, and the line between well-intentioned flirting and sexual harassment can be awfully thin.
Likewise, she found that employees who observe more sexual behavior at work have lower job satisfaction.
What’s more, there’s the distinct possibility that office romances will end badly.
In January, that stance applied to 47% of respondents.
“It’s inevitable that people develop attraction at work,” she says.
And, in her view, efforts to prohibit all such behavior in the office would end up penalizing women or individuals with non-normative sexuality.
It’s also worth noting that the workplace is becoming a less reliable place to meet a spouse.
A Stanford study reports that heterosexual couples meeting through or as coworkers rose steadily from 1940, peaked around 1990 with about 20% of couples meeting that way, and saw a steep decline thereafter. (Meanwhile, the share of couples who first connected online has soared.) Even with that research and the new light #Me Too has shed on the matter, Baker doesn’t advise employers impose a blanket ban on romantic relationships among colleagues.