Tuesday, May 08, 2007

And the Blue Ribbon for Workplace Romance Goes to

In my post on Saturday, I suggested that workplace romances are a bad idea. This bad idea is now getting some play over at the World Bank where president Paul Wolfowitz (former Bush government deputy secretary of defense under Rumsfeld) is allegedly under scrutiny for giving his girlfriend a promotion and a raise. Shaha Riza is a senior communications adviser at the World Bank whose employment there predates Wolfowitz’s appointment. According to a March 2005 article in the Washington Post, the Wolfowitz/Riza relationship began prior to his appointment to the bank. The Guardian reports that the relationship goes back to 2001 when Wolfowitz separated from his wife of 30 years.

In a statement published on the World Bank website, Wolfowitz states:

Two years ago, when I came to the Bank, I raised the issue of a potential
conflict of interest and asked to be recused from the matter. I took the issue
to the Ethics Committee and after extensive discussions with the Chairman, the
Committee’s advice was to promote and relocate Ms. Shaha Riza.

The Bank’s policy on workplace romance is very strict and requires that there be no employment of those in a relationship where there is even an indirect reporting relationship. Thus, the committe recommended that Riza be seconded to the U.S. State department where her salary went from $135,000 to $193,000.

Staff at the bank have been on a campaign protesting Wolfowitz’s leadership and have been wearing blue ribbons to indicate their concern for the cause.

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