I had an inkling of what Lord H might want to discuss when I glimpsed the newspaper headline on his desk ‘Bonking Boeing boss booted’.
In a split second, the colour must have drained from my face, but mercifully I made it to the visitor’s chair without a stumble.
I had to gather my thoughts and do a quick mental calculation, how many of the current ICRs (in-company relationships) was he aware of?
Of course, I was ‘clean’, but among the senior team how many could be labelled ‘bonking bosses’ or ‘boss-ettes’ come to that?
“So Hartley,” he said, wearing his most dangerous smile. “Quite what’s our policy on sex?”
“Well, nothing formal. Just a continuance of your predecessor’s maxim: DSTS – ahem – ‘Don’t shaft the staff’.”
I could see him snort at that – as he did at any reference to the previous chairman.
“Well Boeing seems to have got itself in a pickle here; it’s quite happy that its man Stonecipher can singlehandedly start a transatlantic trade war, but at the slightest hint of damp pantihose, it goes all moralistic. So let’s learn from that and draw up some new guidance.”
Relieved, I made for the door.
“And Hartley,” he said in his driest tone, “in future, we’ll drop any reference to ‘shafting the staff’. I prefer the guidance: ‘one doesn’t fish off the end of the company pier’. And yes, that is the basis for the new policy.”
I swear he winked.