retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports that Best Buy CEO Corie Barry is being investigated by the board of directors following charges that she "had an inappropriate romantic relationship with a fellow executive, who has since left the electronics retailer."

According to the story, the charges were made via an anonymous letter saying that "Ms. Barry had a romantic relationship for years with former Best Buy Senior Vice President Karl Sanft before she took over as CEO last June … Mr. Sanft, former senior vice president of retail operations, had no comment for this article. He left Best Buy in early 2019 and is now the chief operating officer of 24 Hour Fitness Worldwide Inc."

Barry also did not comment about the charges, except to say she was cooperating with the investigation. The Journal notes that "she succeeded Hubert Joly, who led a turnaround at the retailer and still serves as its executive chairman. Mr. Joly’s predecessor as CEO resigned abruptly in April 2012 after the board opened an investigation into his personal conduct. The company was exploring whether he misused company assets in the course of an alleged relationship with a female subordinate."
KC's View:
There clearly are a ton of cases out there of business executives and other people who have used their power positions to abuse and sexually harass people who work and/or report to them. And that's wrong. No excuses.

But I do find myself wondering if the lines always are being drawn in the right places. Aren't there situations in which two people in an organization can have a romantic relationship? It increasingly seems like the answer to that question is no, but so many people spend so much time at work … isn't the workplace one of the places where a person would be most likely to meet someone who shares interests, concerns and habits?

Maybe it just isn't possible anymore. But isn't there room for any nuance? (To be clear, I am not prejudging the Best Buy situation - there hasn't been enough information released to know one way or the other. I'm just musing.)