MeToo | Facebook & Airbnb staff get one shot to date co-workers

    Facebook & Airbnb staff get one shot to date co-workers

    Google, Facebook and Airbnb have revised dating policies, which will give employees one shot at asking co-workers on a date.

    The movement comes as employers try to stamp out workplace sexual harassment and try to avoid sexual harassment claims that have previously plagued other firms such as Uber, according to MarketWatch.

    One Airbnb employee told the publication that the firm has rolled out a strict dating policy, which was communicated by training that they received at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco:

    “You can only ask another employee on a date once, and it can’t be someone in your chain of management, so not your boss or someone on your team.”

    MarketWatch reported that vague responses such as “I’m washing my hair that night” count as a “no”.

    But, Airbnb is not alone with this policy. Global behemoths Google and Facebook also have policies in place which ban employees from asking colleagues on a date more than once, while Netflix has introduced policies targeting persistent employee behaviour.

    Netflix Spokesman Bao-Viet Nguyen, told MarketWatch: “Repeatedly asking someone on a date can lead to a feeling that the work environment is hostile.” However, Facebook failed to respond to MarketWatch’s comment request, and a Google Spokesperson explained that its policy was not logged in the company’s official handbook, but it may be communicated through training.

    The MeToo movement on workplace dating

    Since the rise of the MeToo movement – a campaign against sexual harassment and assault which spread virally in 2017 to demonstrate its prevalence particularly in the workplace – employers have become more conscious about the impact of unwarranted sexual advancements. And this has forced many HR professionals to consider and revise polices to crack down on sexual harassment at work. Yet it seems that not all companies are cracking down on the office dating scene.

    While Tinder rolled out a dating policy earlier this year, it doesn’t prohibit relationships between employees and senior leaders at the business. “We’re a company focused on helping people make connections. We don’t prohibit workplace dating, but there are restrictions when the relationship is between a manager and subordinate. We ask you to inform us if you are engaging in a romantic relationship with a manager or subordinate to avoid any potential conflicts of interest and ensure that all employees feel comfortable in the workplace,” a Tinder Spokeswoman told MarketWatch.

    While office relationships won’t ever go away completely, it is important to make sure that the attraction between work colleagues is genuinely mutual and not being forced by one party. Yet research by Pew Research Centre found that 59% of women and 27% of men say that they have experienced unwelcomed sexual advances, or physical or verbal harassment of a sexual nature.

    HR’s role

    While it may be HR’s role to keep employees safe at work and provide the necessary training, it seems that some employees may have trouble communicating their relationship with others. Further research found that less than five per cent would be willing to disclose their workplace relationship to HR. Mirande Valburne, an Attorney and Author explained to Work and Money that employees often believe that romantic relationships should be kept private and most couples assume that HR wouldn’t respect their privacy.

    The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) say that HR should encourage employees to keep personal and professional life separate. And this is for two reasons. Unwarranted attention could be perceived as a form of harassment and the financial burden of dealing with the fallout of office romances. So to avoid any confusion, HR are advised to have robust harassment and dating policies in place so employees are aware of the repercussions should things go wrong.

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    Comments (1)

    • John
      Tue, 2 Jul 2019 1:55pm BST
      Yet at same time HR and leadership wants to humanise the workplace experience however wants to regulate, govern , monitor human relationships. What ethical dilemmas it faces. Best work flexibly, remotely on gigs and date whoever one wants wherever.

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