British television icon Philip Schofield has gotten bogged down in an “unwise but not illegal” relationship with a former junior staff member.
The 61-year-old announcer stepped out of ITV’s prime daytime show last week after confessing to having an affair with a much younger male runner on the show while he was married to his wife.
The anonymous staff member met Schofield when she was 15, and when she turned 18, she landed a role as a production assistant for ITV, and that’s when their romance allegedly began.
The story sparked concerns for Scofield’s young lover’s welfare and anger at his employer for what should have been about the relationship.
Mr Scofield, who has been the face of British television for almost 40 years, said in a statement:
“Contrary to speculation, I met the man when he was a teenager and asked me to help him get into television, but it turned out to be more than just a friendship because he started working on the show.The relationship wasn’t smart, but it wasn’t illegal.It’s over.”
Power imbalance undermines consent
According to various studies, a quarter to a third of long-term relationships start at work. But it’s clear that not all workplace romances are the same.
A few experts have expressed that luck Dating a younger employee falls into a gray area that depends on age, size of the company, and whether the couple is truly in love, but most people believe that relationships with younger employees cross professional boundaries. , agreed that it concerns the careers of young employees. psychological safety) is at risk.
Adamantly, it’s an abuse of power to have a relationship with someone much younger in your career.
“If you’re a leader, you have a responsibility to your employer and a duty to your employees to ensure they have a safe working environment,” said manager of consultants They Engage and Oystercatchers. Zing Director Richard Robinson emphasizes:
“Part of the relationship with both the employer and the employee means not trying to have sex with the employee. It’s very simple.”
Like most professionals, luck The main issue he had with such romances, he said, was that the older side was in power when it came to his lover’s professional development, performance ratings and career prospects.
“It’s about decision-making ability,” says Robinson as well. “They can attend meetings and speak on their behalf when their juniors are not around.”
Knowing your boss has influence over whether you’ll be fired or promoted makes it hard to say no to a breakup or a romantic gesture from a leader in the first place.
That’s why psychologist and relationship adviser Yeva Kubirite emphasizes that this power imbalance “undermines the notion of a truly consensual and equitable relationship.”
Unconscious Ripple Effect
Like it or not, Alexandra Bond-Burnett, executive coach and founder of consulting firm Ambition: Impact, says everything from the advice she gives to those who recommend a raise affects deep-seated emotions. and warns that much of that emotion is unconscious. .
“And that’s really what makes or breaks a career,” she added.
Even if you weren’t unwittingly sabotaging your ex-boyfriend’s (post-breakup) career, saying compliments to them when they’re not in the room could hurt their career. I have.
Other employees will undoubtedly question the value of promotions, raises or professional opportunities offered to individuals involved in the relationship.
“When a mentor has a relationship with a mentee and the mentee is successful, their success is always questionable,” Barnett says as well.
Moreover, it is not just personal achievements that are at stake.
“Mentee colleagues may worry about breaches of confidentiality, biased decision-making, and loss of objectivity,” warns Kubiliute, while this has repercussions on company culture and morale in the team. It could undermine business and undermine confidence in management, he added.
set the mood culturally
Ultimately, whether or not this is an individual incident, a romantic relationship between your boss and someone significantly younger will culturally set the direction of what is acceptable in your company, and what other managers will do. are portrayed as being jointly and severally guilty.
For new recruits, such relationships can set expectations on how to thrive in unsettlingly low circumstances.
“If your boss is having sex with an intern, alumni, or a new employee, you might genuinely believe that doing so will get you promoted or that’s how you move forward.” warns Robinson.
On the other hand, some managers may try to flirt with their employees in hopes of finding a date or office romance.
“The more disturbing thing, and the one I experienced, and the one that caused me to quit my job, is a sexualized workplace,” Burnett shivered. “In my experience, budding managers treated junior women in a certain way and gave the go-ahead to start conversations in the office hallways.”
As a result, she echoed that “the culture was intolerable” and “horribly offensive” to junior workers who did not know the rules of play.
The big risk of overlooking relationships in the workplace is that it could lead to the more insidious behavior women have called out and confronted since the #metoo movement took off.
“I’m past the age of having experienced horrible behavior in the company of senior leaders. Senior leaders who think it’s okay to have a relationship with a junior member will do it many times, not just once.” says Robinson.
“Once you get to the point where you can do it once, they repeat it, and they repeat it, and they repeat it. So… black or white, there’s absolutely no gray area in this, you shouldn’t look at the company you work for as your own private Tinder world, you’re going to work on your work. .”