Barbarian agency not only has a dating policy everyone signs and reads, but it also has a lawyer come in every six months to speak to the agency about sexual harassment in the workplace and how supervisors should not date subordinates.
This past Monday, RPA held a training around sexual harassment for all its officers that went over best practices for dating in the office.
The #Me Too movement has led to high-profile departures across the business world and a re-examination of workplace processes.
In the ad industry, which has seen big-name exits such as Gustavo Martinez at JWT, Joe Alexander at The Martin Agency and, just this week, Mike Germano at Vice Media’s Carrot Creative and Ted Royer at Droga5, policies on interoffice dating are getting a new look.
At Los Angeles-based independent agency Dailey, “the expectation is that things be handled professionally and that it be nondisruptive,” said Heidi Williams, svp and director of HR there.
It’s a similar case at independent agency RPA, said Laura Small, vp and human resources director at RPA.
“People work very closely with each other for extended periods of time,” she said. Personal relationships are part of the fabric of advertising and communication.” Small acknowledged that junior-manager relationships can “get complicated very quickly,” but said a dating policy isn’t the solution. According to Career Builder’s annual survey published last week, out of 809 workers surveyed across industries, 22 percent of them have dated their boss, up from 15 percent last year, and 41 percent of them had to keep their romance a secret.
It’s questionable how effective the dating policies are at holding-company agencies.
“They are used purely as protection.” Employees might not even be aware if dating policies exist at all.“Everyone wants to believe that agencies are full of cool young people and anything goes,” this person said.“What agencies need are living and breathing policies that are part of an agency’s culture and communicated clearly,” said Gallop. Instead of writing up a code of conduct, she said agencies need to make actionable efforts to get the message across to their employees.It now states that “supervisors cannot date subordinates under any circumstances because it can compromise the ability to enforce the sexual harassment policy.” Some agencies are leaving their dating policies intact but changing their sexual harassment policies instead.The Jun Group just updated its employee handbook to include additional examples of what sexual harassment can look like.Should we date our co-workers or allow our employees to date each other? OVERVIEW [top]Changes in the workplace have made romances between co-workers inevitable.Employees are working longer hours and have less time to socialize outside of work.Digiday spoke with a combination of 23 agencies, human resources consultancies and marketers, several of whom asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the subject, about their existing or nonexistent dating policies.Across the 11 ad agencies Digiday spoke to, views vary on whether they should enforce a dating policy or if one would have any effect on sexual harassment.The exchange of ideas, shared creativity and the teamwork approach fostered in entrepreneur-based enterprises also promote closer connections and lasting relationships — sometimes romantic ones.More than one-third of all employees meet their future partners while on the job, and for many, dating officemates is part of a balanced work life.