By Anne B. Fisher, FORTUNE, October 3, 1994.

Is love in the air at your office? A slew of social trends are

converging to encourage romance at work as never before.

Surprising new research shows that this may be good for



LIBIDO 1. The vital impulse or energy motivating human behavior.

2. The sexual urge; lust.

--New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary of The English Language

HERE'S SOMETHING you may not know about your company's CEO. If

he's at all like the 200 chief executives surveyed this past August by

Clark Martire & Bartolomeo for Fortune, he is an unabashed

romantic. That is to say, he believes in letting love between

employees take its course, even if office amours may occasionally

give rise to trouble. And if that is indeed your boss's view,

he's onto something. A growing body of academic research suggests that

sexual attraction between coworkers, whether or not it is acted

upon, may boost people's productivity on the job. If two

employees marry, the company where they work often ends up getting a

terrific deal, including higher levels of job commitment from both spouses

than from folks whose mates toil elsewhere.


  Most remarkable is that nearly three quarters of the CEOs in

FORTUNE'S poll said that romances between workers are "none of

the company's business." This even though 86% acknowledged that such

goings-on can increase the possibility of favoritism, either real

or perceived, and 77% noted that consensual flings that turn sour

can expose the company to the threat of sexual harassment


  Perhaps the willingness of CEOs to smile upon love at work,

regardless of the perceived risks, is in part accepting the

inevitable: More than half the chief executives surveyed said

they have noticed more married couples at the office lately than ten

years ago. Muses George P. Mitchell, CEO of Mitchell Energy &

Development Corp.: "People meet and get married, and you can't

really stop that. It's the way the world goes." Charles A.

Sullivan, CEO of Interstate Bakeries Corp., says, "We don't have

a problem with couples. In fact, we've found that father-son or

mother-daughter employee situations are much more troublesome."

  Other bosses see a sharp distinction between lovebirds who have

settled calmly into a shared nest and those still caught up in

the flurry of mating rituals. "It's not marriage between employees

that causes trouble," says Orin Smith, chief executive of Engelhard

Corp. "It's what leads up to it." Ah. Who, indeed, hasn't had the

dubious pleasure of working alongside a twosome in the first

flush of passion, when the very air seems charged with fond whispers

and meaningful glances?



Good                                         8%          

Bad                                          16%         

Doesn't Matter                               63%         

Not Sure                                     13%

	Once in a while the results can be explosive. Anybody who

followed the business press in the early Eighties recalls the

epic saga of William Agee, then CEO of Bendix Corp., and Mary

Cunningham, an MBA in her late 20s who moved with stunning speed

into top management. She later married the boss. Bendix employees,

to say nothing of Agee's wife at the time, bitterly resented the

long hours Agee and Cunningham spent closeted together,

supposedly creating a corporate strategy that no one else, including other

senior Bendix managers and the board of directors, ever quite

understood. In the end, Cunningham was forced out of the company.

Agee is now CEO of Morrison Knudsen.

  A number of social trends are enabling romance at work to

flourish as never before. Despite the odd Agee-esque exception,

that is probably not a bad thing. In an era when leaner

organizations and new ways of working add up to longer hours for

many people, work may be the natural place to meet a potential

mate. Says a female investment banker who commutes regularly

between London and Manhattan: "The social scene is pretty dead

now, because AIDS and other worries have made people afraid of meeting

strangers. Besides, who has time to go out?"

  People who work together have, almost by definition, similar

backgrounds, talents, and aspirations. And as women move into

middle and upper management, they and their male co-workers are

more likely than ever to interact as peers. Microsoft, where

multibillionaire CEO Bill Gates wed marketing executive Melinda

French last January, is in several respects a prototypical

Nineties workplace. The company's Seattle headquarters has at least a

dozen married couples who met and courted during their 18-hour

workdays. Says Stephen Manes, co author of Gates, a book on Microsoft and

its founder: "In that kind of intense work environment, you not only

practically live at the office, but you get to use your brains on

each other, which is really the most erotic thing there is."

  IN TIMES OF STRESS, love can be great for a couple's morale.

Pamela and Louis Schuckman both work for Accountants on Call, an

executive recruiting firm with headquarters in Saddle Brook, New

Jersey. "We never have to question each other's motives," says

Pam. "In an intensely competitive business, how many of your

colleagues can you say are behind you 100% and sincerely want you to

succeed?" Mike Cawley and his wife, Lois, are part of a management team

building an auto parts plant in Mexico for their employer, Parker

Hannifin. "Headquarters gives us a lot of support," says Mike.

"But the stress of starting a new plant in an unfamiliar culture would

be much greater if we didn't have each other to rely on."

  The spark of attraction between colleagues need not lead to

romance. Whether it does or not, it can light a fire under productivity. 

David Eyler, a senior staff member at the National Center

for Higher Education in Washington, D.C., is co-author of a book

titled More Than Friends, Less Than Lovers: Managing Sexual

Attraction in the Workplace.  His consulting experience in scores

of companies has led him to believe that most of what people

think they know about how men and women interact at work is, quite

simply, wrong. Many misconceptions may arise from a lingering,

and peculiarly American, strain of Puritanism--what H.L. Mencken once

described as the deep, dark suspicion that somebody somewhere is

having fun.

  One canard is that if work partners are drawn to one an---other

for more than professional reasons, they'll be too distracted to

get the job done.  Au contraire, according to Eyler: "Sexual

energy can drive people into a better working relationship. It doesn't

have to be destructive." Rather, by sublimating sexual tension

and directing it to the task at hand, men and women can

forge dynamic and enduring teams.

  "Work is fundamentally one of the sexiest things that people

can do together," Eyler says, "and it's high time we started taking

advantage of all that energy in some constructive way." Recent

academic research bears him out. Leola Furman, an associate

professor of social work at the University of North Dakota in

Grand Forks, studied the faculty in eight departments at five

Midwestern colleges. She compared the work of teams of both male and female

members with those made up of all men or all women. She found that, 

without exception, the mixed-sex teams were faster and more

imaginative at problem solving than the single-sex groups. She

concluded that sexual tension in the mixed teams made people try

harder to understand and help one another--and maybe to impress

one another too. 



If an unmarried couple is discreet, an

office romance is not a company concern.          79%

Since an office romance has the potential 

to affect productivity, morale, and even

sexual harassment suits, it is the 

company's business.                               19%

Not sure / No answer                               2%

Couples working together, whether married 

or unmarried, can undermine productivity.         39%

Couples working together can increase 

productivity.                                      29%            


Either/Both                                        22%            


Not sure / No answer                              10% 

	Furman did note differences in attitudes between men and women

who admitted they felt sexual attraction toward each other but

who had decided, usually because they were married to others, to keep

their friendships with co-workers strictly platonic.  "Women tend

to know in their minds that this is going to remain a platonic

relationship," says Furman. "Men are somewhat more inclined to

think, 'If we keep getting along this well, it could turn into

something physical.'"  Still, even the men in Furman's study who

entertained such fancies kept them to themselves. Says Furman:

"As people get more accustomed to working closely with colleagues of

the opposite sex, they realize that they don't have to act on

their impulses. It's part of being a professional adult." 

  When unattached professional adults do give their amorous

impulses free rein, the impact on the organization is usually

slight. James Dillard, director of the Center for Communication

Research at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, has done

several detailed studies of how office romances affect both the

productivity of the two workers involved and that of the

people around them.

  His conclusion: "The most likely thing that will happen to

productivity is nothing--no change." The second most likely

effect, he found, is a positive one. People who are in love with a

colleague often begin coming to work earlier and leaving later.

They also embrace work with a new fervor and show an unwonted

burst of enthusiasm for life in general.

  Once co-workers have married, they snuggle into a routine,

centered on the company, that allows them to get the most

possible work done with the least amount of fuss and bother. Richard

Levin, a psychologist who is chairman of Work-Life Enterprises in

Brookline, Massachusetts, says that in his consulting practice he

sees a growing number of "totally efficient couples." They

commute to work together in the morning, drop off a child or two at a

company-sponsored day-care center, and go of to their jobs. Often

they have lunch together to hash over the details of family

chores or to compare notes on what's happening at work, or simply to

spend an hour enjoying each other's company. At the end of the day they

head home together.




Approve                                      3%

Disapprove                                   12%

None of the Company's Business               70%

Not sure                                     15%

	A practical advantage to the company is that two heads really

are better than one. The Schuckmans, who grew up near each other in

New Jersey, first met in San Diego two years ago, at a Superstars

junket for Accountants on Call's highest achievers. Pam, now 28,

eventually moved to the West Coast to be with Lou, 32, and

they've been married for nine months. Lou is a branch manager in San

Jose, Pam a supervisor 17 miles away in Palo Alto. They often sit

talking until ten or 11 at night about what's going- on at work. Says

Pam: "We both know all the players and all the issues involved, so we

can bounce ideas off each other without having to go through a

lot of preliminary explanations."

  Lou's more extensive experience negotiating compensation

packages for his clients has helped Pam make better deals for hers. He

seeks out her views too, and says of their late-night confabs: "No

matter how well you know a particular situation, you can still get a

really unexpected answer." It helps that the Schuckmans' union

has the endorsement of their employer. Accountants on Call was begun

in 1979 by a husband-and-wife team, Stewart and Dory Libes, who

still run it. The privately held company, which now has 65 branch

offices, including one each in Canada, Australia, and England, is

the second largest of its kind in the world. An in-house

newsletter item announcing the Schuckmans' nuptials read, "The couple that

bills together, thrills together."

  Or how about the couple that builds auto parts together? In

Monterrey, Mexico, about 160 miles south of the Texas border,

Mike and Lois Cawley are part of the management team starting a new

plant that makes air-conditioner components for customers GM and

Chrysler. The Cawleys' employer, Cleveland-based Parker Hannifin

Corp., takes marriages between employees so much in stride that

the human-resources department has even coined a name for in-house 

couples: Parker-Parkers. Nobody is quite sure how many there are,

but a good guess is 300. Again, marriage is something of a

company tradition. The $2.5-billion-a year manufacturer of motion-control

devices was founded by Arthur Parker in 1918. He married his

secretary, Helen. Their son Patrick is now chairman of the board.

  Like the Schuckmans, the Cawleys met at an off-site wingding.

At the time, Lois, now 40, lived in Dallas. When she transferred to

headquarters in Ohio a couple of years later, she and Mike, 39,

started dating. They married four years ago. Her background is in

quality control and management training; he's an engineer. "Our

skills happen to mesh so well that the company probably would

have sent us both to Mexico whether we were married or not," says

Lois. "But as it is they get a 'twofer'--moving one family down here

instead of two."

  PSYCHOLOGISTS and consultants who have studied couples like the 

Schuckmans and the Cawleys say they are typical, in that their

unions work to the good of both them and their employers. But

before you rush down the aisle with your favorite colleague, be

aware that the experts are unanimous on one further point: In

cases where someone must pay the price of a conflict between love and

work, the couple--not the company--is most often the loser.

  Being part of a twofer can damage a manager's career if

higher-ups stop seeing him or her as an individual. In FORTUNE'S

poll of CEOs, 53% cited this as a potential hazard, particularly

since circumstances sometimes dictate it. "We recently had a

situation where we promoted and transferred a wife. Her husband

accepted a lower position to accommodate the change," reports

Kerry Killinger, chief executive of Washington Mutual Savings Bank in

Seattle. N. Elizabeth Fried, a consultant and author of the book

Sex, Laws & Stereotypes, says such threats to connubial bliss can

be hard for corporate couples to avoid: "Once you're half of a

pair, it is sometimes an unspoken, unconscious assumption that

you really don't have two separate-but-equal careers anymore."

  Just ask Patricia Alcorn, 46. She and her former husband spent

two decades working side by side. They built a Midwest-based

trade association from a tiny outfit with ten employees into an

influential research organization with $15 million in annual

revenues and a staff of 80. The couple divorced in May 1991. In

September disaster struck. The association was accused of over-billing 

the government for staffers' time on some research

projects funded by The Environmental Protection Agency. Alcorn's

ex-husband, who was then executive director, was fired. Shortly

later, he was convicted of fraud and served a six-month prison

term.  Alcorn, who wasn't involved in any malfeasance and had

been completely in the dark about her ex-husband's, spent 18 months

with a phalanx of lawyers trying to resolve the government's

claims. She also helped the board of directors recruit a new

chief. A few months after he took over, he fired her.


                                    AGREE     DISAGREE  NOT SURE

Office romances increase the

possibility of favoritism or the       86%        13%       1%

appearance of favoritism.

Office romances can create an un-

businesslike appearance.               78%        21%       1%

Office romances expose the company

to the danger of sexual harassment     77%        20%       3%


Given the number of hours managers

spend in the office nowadays,          51%        46%       3% 

office romances are inevitable.

The incidence of office romance has

increase in the past ten years.        35%        39%       26%

In the long run, office romances

inevitably result in problems for      21%        75%       4%

the company.

When an office romance develops, one 

of the parties should leave the        17%        78%       5%

company voluntarily.

	"The board kept assuring me, through all the legal trouble,

that they saw me as an individual," Alcorn says. "But clearly that

wasn't true. Employers will see you as a unit when it suits them

to do so, and not when it doesn't." Alcorn says, for example,

that when she or her former mate approached the board for a raise

or a bonus, decisions were made based on their combined household

income, even when their individual pay was modest compared with

that of other trade association executives.

  Bill and Linda Moore were both managers at Digital Equipment

Corp., where they had met in 1980, before starting their own separ-

ate businesses several years ago. They say that being treated as

Siamese twins was uncomfortable for them too, although they left

DEC for other, unrelated reasons. Both worked in marketing, and

at one point reported to the same senior executive. But Linda's star

rose more quickly than Bill's, and by the time they quit, she

outranked him by several notches. Recalls Bill, 41: "Being

married to Linda was like being a rich person. If someone was

particularly nice to me, I'd find myself wondering, 'Does this person actually

like me, or do I, via Linda, have something they want?'" What

Bill had was access to higher-level information that his peers could

only guess at.

  He also felt increasingly discontented with the way DEC was

handling a variety of problems, and he worried that his

criticisms would hurt Linda's career: "We were both aware that anything

either of us did would rub off on the other. When I felt decisions were

wrong-headed, I felt I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying

so. I didn't want to embarrass her."

	Adds Linda: "Our being married to each other, in such a huge

company, had no negative effect on DEC whatsoever. It did have a

big effect on us, though." And on their two small daughters. In a

company-centered family, the company can become far more all

important and all consuming than in marriages where husband and

wife work for different enterprises. Because the Moores understood

each other's jobs so thoroughly, they frequently let the demands

of the business--say, an out-of-town trip on short notice--take

precedence over the quite different imperatives of family life: a

Little League game, a piano recital, the untimely death of a

gerbil, what the kid said to the moon when he thought you weren't

listening. Now, with each of the executive Moores happily working

at a different company, their schedules are under their own

control. They see more of their children. They even have long

conversations that are blessedly unrelated to work.

  One question you should ask yourself before you wed a company

colleague, especially if both of you are high-profile executives,

is, How much do you value your privacy? When Joni Evans, then an

associate publisher at Simon & Schuster, married longtime

chairman Richard Snyder (recently fired by Viacom Chairman Sumner

Redstone), it's safe to assume that neither elected to see details of their

sex life turn up in the pages of legal journals. Yet that is what

happened after the couple split up in 1987. They had married nine

years earlier in characteristic workaholic fashion, at City Hall

in Manhattan during their lunch hour. So it wasn't without irony

that Snyder later blamed the demise of the marriage on Evans's

obsession with books, authors, and manuscripts. He complained during the

court proceedings that Evans was too busy working even to go with

him to a movie.

  In 1979, Evans began building her own imprint, Linden Press,

within S&S. Over the following six years, she made it into a

topnotch operation with best-sellers by well known authors like

Helen Gurley Brown, Jeffrey Archer, and John Gregory Dunne. One

of her talents as an editor was in coaxing prominent people to write

their memoirs --including erstwhile Bendix whiz kid Mary

Cunningham. In 1985, Evans was promoted to president of Simon &

Schuster's trade book division. She was legendary for her

dedication, and former S&S colleagues say that her marriage to

the chairman made no difference in the way the business ran. Recalls

an editor: "People didn't defer to her because of Dick. She wouldn't

have liked that. They had offices on the same floor, and you'd

see her waiting in line outside his door to see him, just like

everyone else. They left their personal life at home."

	But once their divorce made news, little was left to the

imagination. At issue in the suit, which divorce attorneys

regarded as a landmark case, was money, and lots of it. Evans maintained

that she was entitled to a chunk of Snyder's wealth, about $18

million in all, because she had played so large a part in Simon &

Schuster's success. Snyder for his part asserted that since he

had sponsored her rise to publishing stardom, he should get a piece

of all her future earnings. The proceedings became so vitriolic that

the pair even fought about visitation rights to their dog, an

ailing schnauzer named Cahrin.

  The court eventually denied both spouses' demands and divided

the marital assets pretty much down the middle. But to arrive at a

determination of whether Evans and Snyder had a real marriage

under New York State law or were simply two professionals who shared

some high-priced real estate, the judge in the case was obliged to ask

for specifics about their, um, conjugal relations.

  When the judge asked when was the last time she and Snyder had

had sex, Evans said matter-of-factly, "July 4, 1986."  By the

time she testified, Evans had quit Simon & Schuster for rival Random

House and was so spared having to look S&Sers in the eye when the

tabloids got hold of the story.  She has since moved on to the

William Morris Agency.  Although she gave several reasons for

leaving what she called her "family" at Simon & Schuster, Evans

did say that working with Snyder had simply become too painful.  To

hear her former colleagues tell it, that was the publishing

house's loss.  Says one, wistfully: "She was so terrific.  It just hasn't

been the same without her."

  Even far less spectacular split-ups have the potential to send

tremors through an organization. For this reason and others, a

few companies over the years have attempted to impose rules that

prohibit all romantic relationships between employees, usually by

requiring one party to seek employment elsewhere. Such policies

now are rare, largely because of privacy laws in many states.

Yes           53%

No            46%

Not Sure       1% 

	Wal-Mart used to fire anybody who committed adultery with a

fellow worker. Last year it sacked a New York woman who had a

legal separation, and her boyfriend, who was single. Although every

state technically prohibits adultery, the stricture usually doesn't

apply to people with legal separations. New York State attorney general

Robert Abrams successfully sued Wal-Mart on the grounds that an em- ployer is prohibited by New York law from sticking its nose into

employees' private lives, as long as what they are doing is not

illegal outside the workplace. Now Wal-Mart, like some other

companies, including Parker Hannifin, turns a blind eye to

anybody dating anybody with just one exception: To prevent either the

appearance or the reality of favoritism between sweetheart "one

of the two may not be in a direct supervisory position over the


- Beyond that, most human-resource departments make no attempt to

stay the hand of Cupid. (They do, of course, strictly prohibit

the kind of unwelcome, one-sided pursuit that is sexual harassment.)

In a survey of its membership three years ago, the Society for Human

Resource Management (formerly known as the American Society for

Personnel Administration) found that 92% had no policy at all

regarding love at work. Over 70% said that indeed they "permit

and accept" it, while only a tiny 1.5% minority were bent on banning


  Such tolerance is partly because nobody wants a Wal-Mart-style

suit. But human-resource managers also recognize that, as

researcher James Dillard points out, "Human beings are each

unique, and their relationships are infinitely various.  It would be a

mistake to try and prevent a few isolated problems by making

restrictions that cover everybody."  Or, as Garrison Keillor implored the National Press Club in a speech last spring in

Washington, D.C., "Let us be careful not to make a world so fine

and good that none of us can enjoy living in it."  Telling people

with whom they may fall in love is, well, futile.  It's like

explaining golf to your dog.  He will gaze respectfully at you

and then, as soon as you have stopped talking, grab the ball and run

gleefully into the woods with it.

  Corporations are evolving. As the old lifetime employment

guarantee fades into history, employees--particularly the best

and brightest ones--are less willing to let a company dictate the

terms of their private lives. Even with the divorce rate at decidedly

post-Ozzie-and Harriet levels, a marriage these days is likely to

last longer than a job. It may be more satisfying too, a bulwark

of comfort in a swelling sea of economic uncertainty.  The 1.5% of

employers still struggling to wrestle Eros to the ground will

find, if they haven't already, that they can no more stamp out sex than

they can enforce rules against gossip, day-dreaming, or wine with

lunch.  Life on the job is full of such glorious distractions.

Would we really want it any other way?