Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Job Security Is Working After Hours

A Russian business acquaintance was regaling me over lunch about his new secretary. A slim, 20-year-old brunette, she fit to a T the help-wanted ad his firm had placed in several newspapers. And he couldn't wait to get her into bed.

"She has legs that come up to here," he said, indicating his throat.

The acquaintance, a high-ranking official at a state-owned company, then burst into what can only be described as a lustful tribute to his new secretary, his previous secretary and the secretaries who worked for his boss, his underlings and his friends at other companies.

Without a trace of macho pride, he declared that he'd had them all.

To Our Readers

Has something you've read here startled you? Are you angry, excited, puzzled or pleased? Do you have ideas to improve our coverage?
Then please write to us.
All we ask is that you include your full name, the name of the city from which you are writing and a contact telephone number in case we need to get in touch.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Email the Opinion Page Editor

Such was my introduction into the world of Russian office romance. And as my Russian acquaintance so clearly spelled out, it's no coincidence that job advertisements tend to go into painstaking detail about the suitable candidate's age and appearance.

Sleeping with the boss has for years been an unspoken part of the job description at Russian companies.

Not long after that memorable lunch, I had dinner with the expatriate director of a successful joint venture. He recently had his own brush with office romance when a government official dropped in for a casual chat over cognac and cookies and noticed the striking new secretary.

"Have you gotten lucky with her yet?" the official asked, after the obligatory exchange of pleasantries.

"No, and I don't intend to," the expatriate said.

"Why not?"

"Because we believe it's more conducive to the work environment to keep romance out of the office."

"Then would you mind terribly if I borrowed her for an evening?"

Several acquaintances tell me that the romance is not merely for the sex. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and a little office romance is a good way to keep a good secretary from packing up and moving to a rival firm, where she might spill trade secrets.

Sex doesn't always work, of course. I know of a director at a small energy company who panicked after learning that one of his secretaries, a 21-year-old still attending university, had been wined and dined by a competitor. She got off with a harsh scolding.

Interestingly, office romance is often a two-way street.

My 38-year-old friend Tanya says many secretaries not only expect to have sex but actively seek it.

The reason is simple -- job security. There are thousands of beautiful women looking for work, and if the boss doesn't have a vested interest in you, his eye will be easily caught by one of them.

A willowy blonde I know who works as a press secretary in the music industry once confided over champagne that she was in the process of sleeping with her bosses. She works for half a dozen firms, each with a president and several vice presidents.

Tanya wryly told her, "You'll have to sleep with all of them twice just to remember their faces."

The blonde laughed, a full laugh without a tinge of bitterness.

"You're probably right," she said. "And, you know, if I have to, I will."

Andrew McChesney is deputy editor of The Moscow Times.