IT Employment

Using sex as a career booster


Ever known anyone who used their body to move up the corporate ranks?  If not, you should be aware that it happens more than you might guess.

Both men and women do it.  It's still more "acceptable" for the guys - especially if the company is run by a leadership team which is male dominated.  Where the guy may be seen as just "studly" for his conquests of gals who are senior to him in rank; the lady who practices this approach is often seen as a more calculating.  And the guy is usually less negatively regarded by both genders.

I'll address this issue as it affects males in a later blog.  Today I'll focus on females.

I've worked with several women who conciously used sex to get the attention, become well known and then gain a promotion from someone at a level who could help them move forward. 

Two of them used it as planned: One - who ended up being the head of a large retail chain of departments stores- was very candid about it.  She believed it was the single best advantage she had over the guys with whom she had to compete for a promotion.  Another woman I worked with was a bit less out there with her comments, her nomenclature was "going up the ladder on my back."

I've also had clients who weren't as fortunate as the two noted above. 

One was a VP level individual who was moved ahead quickly after she began a romance with the CEO.  She felt all was going well until the boss became more demanding during their bed time and she realized it was time to break off the physical stuff.  Although he said he understood and appeared to take it well, it wasn't long before he started ignoring her comments and advice in leadership meetings and then became bitter toward her.  It then became clear that he'd started telling others in the company that she wasn't up to the job anymore and the sharks started circling her - watching for mistakes and jumping on them when they occurred.  By the time we started work together she'd lost a lot of her confidence and was in need of a new plan.

Our plan was based upon the need to get her out of that company.   She couldn't succeed in that environment.

It's a fact that even today women usually cannot escape the negative stigma of office romance.  Whether there are genuine feelings or it's just physical, when a guy and a gal work at the same place and "get together" it usually becomes known at some point later.  And the guy won't be penalized - he may be cheered by some of his dumber colleagues.  The woman won't be cheered by anyone in all likelihood.   And more probably she'll lose favor with both genders if she's seen as slutty.  Not a great career move.

john

success coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

11 comments
Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

I once worked at a place where the CEO was putting the moves on one of the workers, with implications there. The CEO was gay and the younger subordinate was a straight arrow. The young guy left the business with a hush hush six figure settlement, nothing happened to the CEO, and the rest of the company got mandatory sexual harassment training. About a year after that, over 30% of the workforce was canned. Interestingly enough, not one of the gay or lesbian employees were in that group. Being the naieve dummy I am, I never took notes, so I only received the standard severance package. /sigh

Chaz Chance#
Chaz Chance#

Having the type of brain that doesn't think quickly in social situations, and just doesn't recognise hints, I completely missed the signs when a female boss wanted to sleep with me. It was only when a colleague started boasting about how his career was about to about to take off because he was sleeping with the boss, his description of events clued me in. It was a long time ago, and I learned a few things from his experience: . 1) Sometimes the boss is actually attracted to you, wants a relationship, and doesn't intend to "buy" you with promotions - my colleagues career didn't go anywhere. . 2) When your colleagues find out, they consider you have used an unfair advantage, and want to take you down a peg, even whilst they congratulate you. That included me in this instance, and although I am different now I am older, I understand how some people might react. So if you do sleep with the boss, expect to lose the co-operation of some of your colleagues. . 3) Turning down the boss doesn't necessarily affect your career. I got all the merit pay rises right on the mark, one of the few who did. My working relationship with the boss remained good until the day she left the company. (I am confident that she drove her own career on merit rather than sex, she was one of the most competent people I have ever worked for.) Should I have slept with the boss? She was both intelligent and attractive, and we were both single... To quote Romeo, "Ahh, me!"

jy
jy

My thought is, even though the woman willingly used sex to get ahead, it was still the CEO's extremely bad choice to participate; and to promote her based on that. She could sue the pants off that firm!! (I am in the legal consultancy biz) In today's world, it is so stupid for any manager, or even co-worker to engage in anything personal that could backfire. Not only the company, but the person individually can have a lawsuit filed against them and then have to defend themselves- time & money, even if they win. Bad idea any way you look at it! Plus I have no respect for anyone using anything other than hard work and talent to advance in their career. And playing dirty like that makes it harder for honest workers to succeed.

glm8709
glm8709

John: I find it difficult to sympathize with a VP of either gender who cannot successfully compete when sex, which they initiated, is removed from the professional equation. And what happens to your VP when this corrupted CEO moves on, and the board of directors appoints a new, happily-mated female CEO, and sex is suddenly useless? Will your VP suddenly become a star in her own right? Did you speak to the CEO to get their version of events; or have you, too, been charmed by your client? There are (at least) three sides to every story. The bottom line, IMHO, is that over the long term, sex is a poor substitute for competence.

charlie
charlie

I have never worked at a place where a woman in a position of authority was not said to have slept her way there. This is almost always said of attractive women and never of less attractive women, so I surmise that the men making the comments are projecting - they imagine themselves as senior management "interviewing" the office hottie for management slot. Having hired several attractive women for various positions (none of which included "missionary" or others along those lines) I wonder if, after getting the job, they breathed a sigh of relief at not having to sleep with me for the job. Or was it disappointment? Now that I am older, married, and have much more at stake, I could not imagine risking a lawsuit by attempting to use a promotion as a means to sleep with a pretty candidate. Still, I am curious what a discussion between a boss and prospect would be like? "Let's discuss this over dinner," or "I'd like to give you this promotion, but first I need to know what you can do for me?" as the bosses hand touches her knee. Mabe I should re-read your article, but I'd love to see a pool o how many women have received a promotion through sex and how many times it came back to bite the boss on the ass. Will the number make me regret my good behaviour (high sex with low repurcussions) or be glad of it (high or low sex with high negatives). www.plexuscommunications.com

Chaz Chance#
Chaz Chance#

Exchanging sex for promotion is prostitution. Even if nobody finds out, you will know what you did. Any position you gain from it has less value because of it. If all you wanted was the money, you could get more for less effort from standing on a street corner. In a culture where we are often complaining about working for management who are incompetent to lead us, why would anyone want a position they have not won through their own merit? And why has not one post here so far considered the moral implications? Do we hold "legal nightmares" to be more important? I would say that our culture was going to the dogs, but at least a dog can lick its genitals and look you in the eye afterward!

tdarmond
tdarmond

You're reply (jy) is absolutely correct and I hope that people are reading this and digesting every word. We are all responsible for our actions, but legally, accountability starts at the top. That's where we look for our leadership and example. The "good old boy and sometimes girl" era rears its head now and then in this category and ultimately the system has progressed enough that laws have been established to know the difference between what is appropriate and what is not regarding sex in the workplace. Best advise... Use your brain, not your body.

GoodOh
GoodOh

"sex is a poor substitute for competence" But no-one is suggesting these people lack competence. But when there are a group of competent people competing for the next level up (and it's a pyramid so that is ALWAYS true) ways to add something to competence to get noticed and appreciated are required. The world is not black and white it's all shades of grey.

peter
peter

Hi there, I enjoyed this post. I am the author of 'Sex, Leadership and Rock'n'Roll' - Business leadership, relationships etc. 'tamed' with rock and pop culture, so I have a point of view.... Starting with Madonna's controversial quote ' Losing my virginity was a career move', it is a fact that all of us (male and female) use flirting and more to get whe we desire at some level. The question is around how much etc. is each of us prepared to use to get what we want. This topic is explored more in the book and I invite you to have a look at it on Amazon.com or via the book website. The book is acclaimed by top US Business thinker Tom Peters. All the best from UK Peter Cook www.academy-of-rock.co.uk http://www.amazon.com/Sex-Leadership-Rock-Roll-Lessons/dp/1845900162/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199635430&sr=8-1

techrepublic-list
techrepublic-list

I too have been cautious thus far in my career, I'd also be very, very curious to know what's really going on out there.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

My sister used to be at an interior design firm (large one, they sent her to places like marble factory in Turkey, leather factory in Argentina). It may be a stereotype that people with certain sexual preferences flock to these typed of jobs. But anyway she joked that guys below her got promoted for sleeping with the boss.