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You’re Not the Only One Your CEO is Screwing [HorroR Stories]

Dear Madame HorroR,

I recently returned from a business trip to New York with the CEO of my company and a couple of other executives. One evening I entered the hotel bar where we were staying and saw the CEO at a table with a woman I know is a prostitute. I know this because she had propositioned me on a previous occasion and I turned her down. They left together. We are a public company and aside from this being illegal and immoral, he’s also married. What should I do?

–Shocked and Dismayed

Dear Dismayed,

So, your CEO likes prostitutes? Neat. He’s married? Super. You’ve got shareholders and board members and whoever that Mr. SOX fellow is (I hate that guy) standing in a row just shaking their heads in disapproval. Hmm, I doubt it. But you’re right, this is shocking and dismaying. I mean, I used to go on business trips and feel guilty if I ordered Dominos to my hotel room late at night because all the food they served at the meeting I was at all day was kosher and GROSS.  I would make sure to get extra meat AND cheese on that baby, but I wouldn’t put it on my expense report. I wonder if your CEO expensed the drinks he bought little Miss Madam, or the condom he bought in the bathroom (maybe there was one in his mini-bar so he just charged it to the room—there are probably some hotels in New York that have Viagra in their mini-bars, I’m just saying).

I’m going to give you a little glimpse into the mind of an HR professional. If you were in my office right now telling me this I would be plugging my ears and chanting “la, la, la I’m not listening to what you are saying.” This is what happens when you switch over to the dark side (or as some say, start your career in HR). Before you worked in HR: “Oooh, that’s juicy gossip about the CEO. I feel so sorry for his wife, I can’t believe he sleeps with prostitutes. I can’t wait to tell everyone I know.” After you’ve worked in HR for 10 years: “Stop talking, stop talking, stop talking. I don’t want to know, stop talking.” Knowing implies, in some sense, that you have to do something about it. And what are you going to do? Fire the CEO? Write him up? Send him and his wife to marriage counseling?

Let’s stay with the scenario that you are in my office right now telling me this. Here is what I would really say: “What do you want to do about it?” In other words, what are you trying to get out of this situation? Why the heck are you sitting in my office right now telling me this, because employees HATE HR, yet you’re here, sitting in my stiff visitor’s chair, staring at my “I Hate Mondays” poster on the wall. So there’s a reason you’re here, and I want to know what it is, because my problem isn’t that the CEO is fucking prostitutes when he’s supposed to be raising capital. No, MY problem is YOU.

Now I’m going to make some assumptions about you. I’m guessing because you were on this trip with the CEO and some other executives that you might be an executive yourself. If not, perhaps close enough to the sun that your skin is turning pink. I’m also assuming that you are probably married yourself, perhaps a bit younger, new to management, 2.2 kids, you vote Republican but you love gay people, your favorite professional athletes are the ones that play the game “the right way.” You’re indignant and a little sick that this man, a man you are supposed to respect, to work with, look up to, maybe even learn something from, would be depraved. Although, all legalities aside, I suppose depravity is in the eye of the beholder. If you had been in Amsterdam, or Vegas, would you have cared?

So, let’s separate church and state here for a minute. Are you here in my office telling me this because you are outraged at his behavior? His wanton contempt of the sanctity of marriage? The fact that he’s having sex on a business trip? The fact that he’s having sex? If that’s the case, then only St. Peter (or as I like to call him, Chief Judgment Officer {CJO}) can help you with that one. If, however, you are outraged because he has broken the law, and as an officer of this company he has put the future of the company in jeopardy and this is perhaps not the man we want leading our company, then, well, sure, okay. Try walking into the Board Room during the next Board of Director’s meeting and telling them that. Good luck, come back and see me when you are done and we can discuss COBRA and rolling over your 401K.

Maybe you just needed to share this bit of information with me. I mean, gasp, I can’t believe it. Not George! And to do that to poor Sarah! I can do disappointed, I got this one. I mean, heck, I am disappointed! Geez George, ever heard of discretion? Did you have to take her to the hotel bar where everyone else is staying? Couldn’t you have ordered that drink up to the room? You want indignation? Sure, I’m all over that, I can be indignant enough for 2 people! Just try me. But I ain’t going to go talk to the CEO about the ol’ slap and tickle, I’m just not, you can’t make me. However, depending on my relationship with the executive I report to, I may go talk to him/her (as long as it isn’t the CEO) and maybe have them sit down with you and give you the good old GET OVER IT speech.

Yes, that’s right, I said it: GET OVER IT. Men in powerful positions like having sex with women, some of them are willing to pay for it. GET OVER IT. Does this make him a bad CEO? No! If he’s a bad CEO it’s for a whole lot of other reasons that have nothing to do with his sexual preferences. Just like if you are a bad Accountant it’s probably more because you can’t read a financial statement than because you like to be wrapped in Saran Wrap completely naked. And you wouldn’t want your work performance judged on the fact that sometimes, around Christmas to be festive, you use the red and green colored Saran Wrap. So don’t judge his performance on the fact that he has to pay for it, or that his wife is all alone in their 15,000 square foot Laguna mansion filing her nails while he’s screwing New York call girls. I mean, unless you are said prostitute, sex doesn’t have much to do with job performance.

So, don’t get disgusted with me, don’t get all offended or surprised at how easily I’m willing to look the other way. File this story away as one you can bring out on cold nights and tell your friends about the crazy boss you had at your last job. I guarantee that you will be judged by how you react to this. The people in the suits up there in that paneled office? They don’t want you to react. Heck, they didn’t react when they witnessed something about one of their coworkers or managers that surprised, disgusted or incensed them. But that’s the way it works. Nobody likes a Drama Queen. Still doesn’t sit right? Well then you should start praying to the great CEO in the sky to send an email to the CJO and good ol’ George will be burning in hell for sure. Unfortunately, you probably won’t still be working for him when he is.

Good luck out there,

Mme HR