* The Illinois Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access panel’s report on the “one ask” policy…
Crafting feasible and effective policies regarding consensual romantic relationships on campaigns is challenging. Consensual relationships between peers are not inherently problematic. In fact, many campaign workers are drawn to campaign work in the first place because of the close camaraderie and fellowship among co-workers. However, romantic relationships that are coerced or lack consent are always illegal, and problems can also develop when relationships involve a disparity in power positions, which is a typical feature of campaigns.
Over-regulation of this issue may discourage the friendship and camaraderie that is a hallmark of a well-run campaign and may be impossible to enforce, but ignoring the potential problem can breed poor workplace culture and may be an obstacle to women advancing in politics.
The comprehensive policies from the state parties should establish a rule or policy that is a one-invitation policy: campaign workers and volunteers are allowed to ask co-workers out one time, but if the invitation is declined, the inviter is not permitted to ask again; and strongly discourages dating relationships between superiors and direct reports. We stop at recommending an outright ban because of the fluid organizational structure that is prevalent in campaigns.
Facebook has adopted a one-invitation policy, and has clarified that if the response is “ambiguous” – like “I’m busy” or “I can’t that night” – that counts as a “no.”5 One ask policies are becoming more prevalent in corporate workplaces and are a reasonable balance between appropriate behavior and preventing harassment.
* On to alcohol…
We recommend that campaigns consider the risks that alcohol consumption can present and adopt a policy acknowledging that alcohol use is not banned at work-related events or among co-workers, but prohibiting consumption to the extent it interferes with a campaign worker’s ability to perform his or her job or exercise proper judgment.
For example, Google’s Code of Conduct states “Consumption of alcohol is not banned at our offices, but use good judgment and never drink in a way that leads to impaired performance or inappropriate behavior, endangers the safety of others, or violates the law,” and it permits managers that have a “reasonable suspicion” that an employee’s alcohol use may be impairing his job performance or endangering others to request an alcohol screening.
Regardless of the exact policy language, alcohol use should never be used to justify harassing and inappropriate behavior or used to discredit a victim.