The Strategist

Axel Springer will require employees to report office romances


11/09/2021 - 10:31



Media group Axel Springer SE wants to require its nearly 16,000 employees to report intimate relationships between managers and subordinates, the Financial Times reports. This follows a high-profile scandal in which the editor-in-chief of Bild newspaper (part of Axel Springer) was sacked for having affairs with female employees and promoting them.



Fred Romero
Fred Romero
This decision marks the first time in the 75 years of Axel Springer's existence.

Julian Reichelt, the editor in chief of Bild, was dismissed at the end of October for 'not drawing a clear line between personal and professional matters and not being honest with the board of management on this matter'. The scandal erupted after The New York Times published an investigation into Mr. Reichelt's numerous affairs.

Commenting on the situation, as well as the decision to tighten standards, Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner said in an interview with the FT that rules regarding workplace relationships are much stricter in the US than in Europe, and the US is a very important market for the company.

"We cannot be held to a double standard. We intend to introduce uniform rules that rely on the stricter Anglo-Saxon version as a counterbalance to the lower European standards," he said.

He said this plan had not yet been agreed with the unions and if they failed to reach a compromise, management would simply say: "Here are the rules of conduct for all our employees around the world. Who will not behave in accordance with them must leave the company". Meanwhile, as the FT notes, the new rules do not prohibit Axel Springer executives from having a close relationship with subordinates, as is increasingly the case in American companies.

source: ft.com