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Thursday 09 April 2009

Banking on romance at work

Posted in: Family Matters
By - 13th September 2008

Jacquie Grant affectionately known as the "tranny granny", Jacquie's had a colourful life which has seen her go from being harassed by police and arrested on the streets of King's Cross in Sydney in the late 1950s, to a happier life in New Zealand, where she has fostered more than 60 children, and now has numerous grandchildren. Jacquie lives in Hokitika.

Bill Logan is a counsellor, celebrant, gay activist and revolutionist in his fifties, Bill's been on the Gay Helpline in Wellington since 1982, was a co-founder of the NZ AIDS Foundation, and played a significant role in the struggle for homosexual law reform.

Tom Hamilton is Rainbow Youth's Executive Director, and also has several years experience working within LGBT communities in Australia and the USA. Tom also has extensive knowledge about community law, support work and counselling.

Previous advisors include secondary school teacher Carol Bartlett, gay activist Jim Peron,"Out & Proud" ambassador AJ Marsh, ex Youth Coordinator for Rainbow Youth Rob Marshall and editor Jay Bennie.

If you have a question you'd like to put to our panel, please complete our

A bank manager is wondering if he should take things a little further with a young employee. Our advice panel says: "Don't screw the crew!"


I'm not going to say where I am, but I work as a manager in a small bank, and I've a young gay man in my team. We have been flirting (trying to be subtle about it however) and increasingly enjoying each other's company on the job. So much so that I find it difficult to stop thinking about being together with him.

I didn't find him as intriguing when I hired him, but our relationship just grew slowly. So now I know that I might be in for a difficult time, because I'd like to take things further with him, but we work so closely together that it may very well make things uncomfortable at work. I'm also acutely aware that I'm his boss and it may not be professional to make an advance on him.

Please advise me as I'm not sure what to do, perhaps there is something wonderful that's possible?


Advice from Rob Marshall:

Don't screw the crew! You are just asking for problems. Think worst case scenario, you could lose your job. There is a serious power imbalance involved in such relationships.

Ask yourself what are the attributes that you are attracted to in your employee. Name six of them. Can you find similar characteristics in the multitude of other people out there in Queer-metropolis. Is there any reason why you cannot find someone outside of work? Might pay to check your workplace policy /code of ethics to see what you would be in for.

Also some banks provide anonymous counselling for their employees.

Advice from Jacquie Grant:

Flirting on the job could be called sexual harassment at some stage in the future and could lead to a personal grievance claim.

You are the boss and he is a junior employee probably wanting to keep his job.

Your letter is conflicting, you intimate you are having a relationship then you say it may not be professional to make an advance on him, you talk about your relationship growing slowly? Is this wishful thinking on your part? Of so leave it alone or risk your career.

If indeed you are going to have a relationship one of you is going to have to change banks - preferably a different bank, that way you are still in the same industry but distanced.

Seems to me you have already gone too far and have shown poor judgment in your role as manager.

Advice from Bill Logan:

There are very few ways that this can have a happy ending … and very many that are extremely messy! Imagine for a moment an affair with this guy that works, an affair that's happy, equitable and entirely invisible to the bank and the other staff. It's pretty unlikely, and there are lots of pitfalls on the way to getting there – potential misunderstandings, harassment claims and workplace issues – but it is not entirely impossible. Imagine it.

Now, imagine after a few months that happy relationship getting into difficulties –perhaps one of you strays, or snores, or watches too much television. Imagine, even, the relationship coming to an end. Let's face it; relationships do come to an end, and many fairly quickly. Be realistic. Imagine the hurt. Will it still be possible at that time to keep work issues and relationship issues separate? Imagine how difficult it might be at that time for this guy, and for you. Imagine trying to work together at that time. Imagine what will be said in the bank then – by this guy, by other members of your staff, and by your bosses.

You have to weigh up which is more important to you – your career or this relationship? If you are determined on the relationship, then one of you better get a new job – probably you. - 13th September 2008