Reveal a love affair?
Springer brings post-Reichelt regulations
12/13/2021, 11:03 AM
Two months after Julian Reichelt was fired as head of Bild, media group Axel Springer is working to toughen its code of conduct. It’s about personal relationships in the workplace and apparently about when to reveal them to avoid abuse of power as in the Reichelt era.
After the scandal surrounding the former head of the company “Bild” Julian Reichelt, the media group Axel Springer has tightened the rules of conduct of personal relationships in the workplace. “We must and want to formulate more clearly the behavior we expect from managers in the event of potential conflicts of interest in the workplace, and measure our actions accordingly,” says a letter from HR Director Julian Deutz and Director People and Culture Tilman Knoll to employees who were available to dpa. So managers with technical or disciplinary responsibility for employees must disclose conflicts of interest, such as a romantic relationship with an employee in their area of responsibility.
The Code of Conduct has been around for years in Springer, which is headquartered in Berlin. One reason for the amendment is the case of former Bild editor Julian Reichelt, against whom the group launched an internal investigation in the spring and was released from his duties about two months ago after more recent journalistic research. . According to Springer, the main focus of the Spring investigation was allegations of abuse of power regarding consensual relationships with employees and drug use in the workplace.
The public allegations against “Bild” editor-in-chief Reichelt were generally heavy. It was about relationships with some very young employees, bullying and substance abuse in the workplace. According to Spiegel, employees described Rachelt as a power-obsessed. As someone who took on an aggressive tone, he humiliated people. But this was clearly only one aspect of the editor-in-chief. Reichelt is said to have systematically seduced young professionals, apprentices and apprentices in particular. According to Spiegel, one of them said Reichelt had made jobs and advancement opportunities dependent on sleeping with him. After the scandal and new reports, Reichelt was finally forced to vacate his post.
No comprehensive disclosure is required
The code now says, “Close personal relationships with colleagues, managers or employees can lead to our professional dealings with these people or their work being influenced by vested interests.” This means, for example, love relationships and sexual relationships. It is also about family relationships.
According to the rules, employees can disclose the relationship to their supervisor, HR or responsible compliance department. An internal or external trustee may be consulted for this. The letter to employees also emphasized: “Relationships in the workplace should not be publicly disclosed and of course not prohibited. It would ignore every fact of life.” Accordingly, only the relations between the manager and the employee who reports to him in a technical or disciplinary manner should be made transparent.
In a declaration of intent from the group and the group’s business council, which was also available to dpa, it was said that they had come together to make clear references to both the German market and the international market. “The point is that abuse of power at Axel Springer cannot happen in the first place.” The new version of the Code of Conduct marks a start.
Working Group Board Chair Linda Paczkowski-Dering was quoted as saying about the declaration of intent posted on the intranet: Amendments to the Code of Conduct are a good step. “But we believe that more is needed to drive cultural change. We place special importance on diversity, inclusion and the targeted advancement of women.”