How many senior Australian managers, including CEOs, will
pause when reading this story in their papers or hearing of it in the next
few days?

Harry Stonecipher, the tough CEO
of Boeing, the huge US
aircraft maker and aerospace group, has been forced to leave after it was found
he was having an affair with a female employee – read more here.

If that was enforced in this country there’s quite a few
CEOs and others who would have had to walk the plank over the past 20 years or
so, and a few now.

US companies
have become even more ferocious in trying to stop office affairs. Many
employees are forced the sign agreements that explicitly ban them, or in their
corporate induction programs, are told, in fairly detailed fashion, what is
allowed and what isn’t. They are sort of like corporate pre-nuptials.

There have been a couple of high profile examples of CEOs
being forced out of companies because on inappropriate relationships outside
their companies.

One was a former head of the huge GE Financial Services
group whose affair, separation and divorce created such tensions inside the
financial powerhouse of GE, that he was forced to depart.

And, of course Jack Welch, the long time CEO and chairman of
GE was sprung having an affair with a management writer who came to interview
him for the Harvard Business Review. They are now married, but the divorce
proceedings revealed the very cushy multi million dollar terms of Welch’s
retirement from GE, which his former wife got to share in.

The final irony is that Mr Stonecipher had a reputation for being a tough,
conservative and hard driving boss – as Reuters reports: Boeing’s Stonecipher undone by own policies.

He was brought back to Boeing from retirement, several years
ago as a “Mr Clean” when his predecessor,
Phil Condit was forced to resign over some dodgy dealing with employees in the
Pentagon who got jobs at the company after a huge defence
deal was signed.

A case of “please make me strong, but not quite yet”?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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